Sunday Telegraph report
by Jonathan Erasmus in Darfur, 7 Jan 2007. Excerpt:
In October, The Sunday Telegraph witnessed Sudanese soldiers loading bombs on to Antonov aircraft at El Fasher air base in North Darfur before a number of villages were attacked.
Last week, new arrivals at the Otash camp in the South Darfur capital, Nyala, said they were forced to flee their villages when government helicopter gunships opened fire on them.
Under the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) signed in Abuja, Nigeria, last May, Sudan had agreed not to carry out aerial attacks in Darfur. But rebel groups say Sudanese Antonov bombers have been conducting raids on Jebel Marra and the North Darfur regions of Anka, Um Rai and Kutum.
A senior Sudanese Liberation Army commander told The Sunday Telegraph: "We were prepared to adopt a ceasefire. Just two days later our positions were bombed by the government.
"These kind of attacks are what we have come to expect from Khartoum, they are doing what they can before the UN arrives."
Escalations in fighting and government aerial attacks often happen when new peace agreements or resolutions are signed.
"When a deadline is set for there to be a change in what is happening in Darfur, the number of attacks on villages and towns increases along with clashes between rebel groups and the government," said one aid worker.
"With the latest resolution, it now looks imminent that UN troops will be on the ground here. But every time there has been any progress in terms of peace agreements, you can be sure that factions of rebel groups and the government will do what they can to secure territories for their own and weaken the other side."
UN aid organisations in Darfur say they have been told that Sudan has also said that there must be no senior UN officials in the region, only junior officials who would act under orders from the AU.
UN officials in Darfur say they have not been told when they will be seeing the blue berets of the UN troops but only that the troops that come are likely to be made up of soldiers from African nations.
One UN official added: "The implementation of the latest resolution will prove challenging, with AU commanders in certain regions of Darfur not wanting to concede that they need support from the incoming UN troops."
In the meantime, Sudanese forces are using the interim period to attack the territories held by rebels who have not signed up to the DPA and are therefore legitimate targets.