Former rebels who signed a peace agreement with the government in May have denounced the new Sudanese military offensive to flush out rebel groups in North Darfur State, IRIN
reported 7 Sep 2006 [via ST Sep 10]. Excerpt:
"The government's own security plan for the north is motivated by hidden agendas," Col. Ali Muktar, representative of Minni Minnawi's faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) on the African Union (AU) ceasefire commission, told IRIN on Thursday. "We do not support this plan and we do not participate in this plan."
"We urge the AU and the United Nations to urge the government to stop these military operations," he added.
Large swathes of territory in North Darfur are under the control of the National Redemption Front (NRF), a new alliance of rebels who did not sign the 5 May Darfur Peace Agreement between the government and Minnawi faction.
Local observers confirmed that the offensive started on 28 August when the villages of Abu Sakin, Kulkul, Sayah and Turra, approximately 35 km northwest of the capital El Fasher were attacked from the air by Antonov planes. Subsequently, Sudanese armed forces took over the area and pushed further northwards, recapturing Um Sidir on 31 August.
Although NRF rebels initially avoided a direct confrontation with the advancing government forces, they started to counter-attack after the loss of Um Sidir. Insecurity has been rampant since.
On Friday, Sam Ibok, the director of the AU Peace and Security Council, said 20 civilians had been killed and more than 1,000 displaced as a result of the offensive. International observers in North Darfur reported that civilians attempting to flee the Kulkul area in the direction of El Fasher were turned back by government troops.