SUDAN WATCH: Sudan admits using helicopter gunships in attack on Shearia South Darfur

Monday, October 03, 2005

Sudan admits using helicopter gunships in attack on Shearia South Darfur

The Sudanese army on Monday denied African Union accusations that it had coordinated attacks on civilians with Arab militia in Darfur. Extracts from Reuters Oct 3:

An army spokesman said the AU reports were based on comments from aid agency officials in the region and were unreliable. He also denied reports any helicopter gunships had been used in attacks in recent days.

"We vigorously refute the comments from ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe," the spokesman said, reading from an army statement. "This information does not come from reliable sources -- it is just based on reports by some aid agencies."

Kingibe, head of the AU mission monitoring a shaky ceasefire in Sudan, told reporters on Saturday that government helicopters had been seen flying in the areas attacked.

He said it "gave credence" to accusations by rebel groups of collusion between Sudanese forces and the Arab militias known as Janjaweed.

"We say to the African Union, who are monitoring the region, that after Sept. 21 [my emphasis] we have not used any helicopters at all," the spokesman said.

"This was the last date a helicopter was used and this was during the events of Shearia," he said.

Rebel forces attacked the government garrison town of Shearia in South Darfur last month, prompting retaliation by militias and the government in the past week.

The army spokesman said it was rebels who had targeted civilians in Darfur and the army was defending them.

[Note Oct 1 2005 Sudan Watch post - Sudan's Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal led attack on Darfur - re UN Resolution 1591, March 30 2005, demanding Government of Sudan to immediately cease conducting offensive military flights in the region.]

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