Home | News    Saturday 16 May 2009

Chad carries out air strikes in Sudan’s Darfur - official

May 15, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — Chadian air force planes on Friday carried out raids twice inside the Darfur region of Sudan, the Sudanese foreign ministry said. While the Chadian government spoke about preventive action against Sudan harbored rebels.

The air strikes comes ten days after Sudan backed Chadian rebels moved inside the country in an attempt to overthrow the government of Chadian President Idriss Deby that Khartoum accuses of supporting Darfur rebels.

Three Chadian aircrafts bombed the area of Jabel Sandu south of El Geneina, which lies about 60 kilometers inside Sudan. The Chadian airplanes raided twice the area, the first attack was at 10:00am and the second raid at 01:30 pm local time.

Ali Youssef, the Acting Undersecretary of the Sudanese foreign ministry, said the aerial attacks are flagrant violation of Sudanese sovereignty and territorial integrity.

He further added the attack is a dangerous precedent and constitutes an act of war, pointing out that "the Government of Chad has to bear the consequences of this aggression."

A spokesperson of the Chadian rebels on Thursday told the AFP they are bombed "every day" by the government air force in south-eastern Sudan.

"We are bombarded daily by three (fighter aircraft) Sukhoi and helicopters," said Abderaman Koulamallah the spokesperson of the Union of Forces of the Resistance (UFR), which includes the main rebel factions.

The Chadian government describes the Chadian rebels as "mercenaries" and speaks about "Sudanese aggression."

The Chadian rebels before the attack they were based near El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state. However they claim now being inside the Chadian territory.

"We are in the south-eastern Chad, about forty kilometers from the Sudanese border. It’s not over. We’ve had losses last week but our forces are intact or almost," said Koulamallah.

The Chadian government confirmed the air strikes describing Khartoum’s position as "the robber who cries thief".

Reacting to Sudanese accusations Mahamat Hissene, the spokesperson of the Chadian Government told reporters today in Ndjamena that since Sudan "is not ready to give up on its devastating offensives, Chad has the right to destroy the evil — including preventive action against training camps and mercenary bases."

"It won’t be Sudan’s threats of retaliation that will make Chadian troops fold," he added.
On January 7, 2008, the Chadian air force planes attacked bases of Chadian rebel in West Darfur. At the time the Sudanese army had said it would retaliate but the threats remained without effect.

Due to internal political problems in both countries, Sudan and Chad have armed opposition groups. The two countries pursue their war against the rebel groups by supporting respective opposition movements, analysts say.

"The two countries signed many agreements but they were unable to honor it because these deals do not address the real problem, which is the political situation inside the two countries," said a western expert who declined to be named.

Libya in the past tried to end the tension between the two countries by holding different meeting between the Sudanese and Chadian leaders who signed Tripoli agreements in 2006. Also the Saudi Arabia mediated an agreement in 2007, Dakar Agreement was inked in 2008 with a committee to monitor its implementation. Early this month, the two countries signed an agreement in Doha two days before the rebel attack.

The regional and international communities watched with some indifference the latest rebel attack despite the condemnation of the rebel attack by the AU and the UN.

The escalation of tension between the two countries could lead the international community to look for a new approach to end the chronic tension between the Sudan and Chad.