SUDAN WATCH: Kutum, North Darfur: Bandits' attack on ICRC forces aid groups out

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Kutum, North Darfur: Bandits' attack on ICRC forces aid groups out

Dec 8 2006 Reuters report Attack on ICRC forces aid groups out of Darfur town (via WP):
A number of aid agencies evacuated their staff from a town in Sudan's Darfur region on Friday after unidentified gunmen attacked a house used by the International Committee of the Red Cross, aid workers said.

The ICRC said it evacuated 10 of its international staff and a Spanish Red Cross worker out of Kutum in northern Darfur after the attack on a residence housing two of its delegates who escaped unharmed.

"We don't know who it was. Gunmen tried to get it. They stayed on the roof and fired, and hung around for a quite a while," Jessica Barry, ICRC spokeswoman in Sudan, told Reuters.

She said the attack took place in the early hours of Friday and prompted the organization to fly its workers to El Fasher, the main town in Darfur and a scene of violent clashes early this week between militias, locally known as the Janjaweed, and the former rebels of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM/A).

Goal, an Irish NGO, also evacuated its seven-member team from Kutum after the attack, said Mark Blackett, the agency's Country Director. They would arrived in Khartoum on Saturday or Sunday, he said.

He said motive behind the attack on the ICRC house was unclear "but it was not to steal anything."

Barry said the ICRC has asked authorities in Kutum to investigate the attack.

"We hope that this would be a temporary withdrawal. Our national staff are keeping the office open," she said.

Noureddine Mezni, the African Union spokesman in Sudan, said on Friday the situation in El Fasher has stabilized.

"Business activities have returned to normal and the security situation according to our field reports was calm," he told Reuters.

The violence has forced the United Nations to fly 134 of its own and other aid agencies' staff out of the town.


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