Sudan accuses Chad of sending troops to aid rebels - JEM has taken Sudan army base at Kornoi
Sudan accuses Chad of sending troops to aid rebels
From Reuters by Andrew Heavens, Monday, 18 May 2009:
* UN chief Ban urges Chad, Sudan to cease fighting
* Arab League's Moussa optimistic on Darfur peace outlook
EL FASHER, Sudan, May 18 (Reuters) - Sudan's top official in North Darfur accused Chad on Monday of sending troops into his territory to fight alongside Darfur rebels, raising the stakes in the simmering tension between the two countries.- - -
North Darfur governor Osman Kebir said Chadian forces had reinforced fighters from Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in an attack on the strategic town of Kornoi on Saturday.
Sudan accused Chad of carrying out three air strikes on its territory last week, calling the raids an "act of war."
However, this was the first occasion in recent times that it had said Chadian ground troops had breached its border.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon repeated his call for all parties to cease fighting, according to a statement from U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe.
"(Ban) underscores that there is no military solution to the situation in the sub-region and urges the governments of Chad and Sudan to refrain from any act that may lead to a further escalation of tensions," Okabe said.
Chad said on Sunday it had carried out the air raids, and fought near Sudan's border, to destroy anti-Chadian insurgents it said were taking refuge inside Sudan. It has so far not commented on Saturday's ground attack on Kornoi.
"Chadian aggression has reached the locality of Kornoi, a town near the Chadian border," said Kebir, speaking through a translator as he addressed a delegation of the leaders of the Arab League, the African Union Commission and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
"Kornoi has been attacked by Chad forces with JEM. Our armed forces have stopped the aggression."
Chadian President Idriss Deby has ethnic links with JEM's leader Khalil Ibrahim and many of his top commanders and Khartoum regularly accuses its neighbor of supporting the rebel force.
Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, said he remained hopeful about the prospects for peace in Darfur, despite an increase in violence along the Chadian border.
"We are assured the government of Sudan is trying hard to mend fences with the government of Chad to move toward a low intensity situation," he told reporters at the end of his delegation's one-day visit to El Fasher.
Jean Ping, chair of the African Union Commission, declined to comment on the reports of Chadian involvement in Sudan. [...] (Additional reporting by Megan Davies at the United Nations) (Editing by Andrew Dobbie and Todd Eastham)
From Reuters by Andrew Heavens in Khartoum, 17 May 2009 12:38:06 GMT:
Darfur rebels say Sudan army base seized
Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement said on Sunday it attacked Sudanese government troops in north Darfur, forcing them out of a strategic base in the latest of a series of clashes in the area.- - -
U.N. sources confirmed Sudanese government soldiers were attacked on Saturday afternoon in the town of Kornoi, which is on a key road, but no one was immediately available to comment from the Sudanese army.
The reports will stoke growing tensions in the volatile area which borders Chad. Sudan accused Chad of launching three airstrikes in north Darfur on Friday and Saturday.
Diplomatic sources in Khartoum have said JEM may be planning a major offensive in Darfur, partly in retaliation for an incursion by Chadian insurgents into Chad earlier this month.
Sudan's government says JEM is backed by Chad, while Chad accuses Khartoum of supporting insurgents in its territory.
"JEM has taken Kornoi. We attacked a garrison there. We want to clear them out of the area," JEM leader Khaili Ibrahim told Reuters by satellite telephone, saying the two-hour battle had taken place late afternoon on Saturday.
"We now control a very large area. JEM will proceed to control the whole area - the whole of Darfur, including the capitals (El Fasher, El Geneina and Nyala, the capitals of the states of north, west and south Darfur)."
Ibrahim said there had been casualties on both sides, but it was too early to release statistics.
Darfur's U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force said it had received unconfirmed reports of clashes between JEM and Sudan government forces at Kornoi -- but could not confirm them as it did not have a base in the settlement.
U.N. sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed there had been an attack, and said government soldiers had been seen retreating from the area.
"We can confirm an attack took place, an attack on Sudanese military forces. The attackers are now controlling that locality," said one U.N. officer."We do not have information on who the attackers were or the number of casualties."
There have been signs that JEM has been re-arming and re-grouping. JEM clashed with former rebels backed by Sudan's government close to the town of Umm Baru earlier this month.
Kornoi and Umm Baru are just 50 km (30 miles) apart on a strategic route which stretches southeast from the Chadian border across north Darfur towards El Fasher.
JEM, which says it intends to control Darfur and the neighbouring regions of northern and southern Kordofan, also launched a shock attack on Khartoum in May last year, saying it wanted to overthrow the government.
JEM has been holding a series of discussions with Sudan's government in Qatar. But they have so far not evolved into full peace talks.
Map found on the internet, source unknown. Note, El Fasher. Kornoi and Umm Baru are just 50 km (30 miles) apart on a strategic route which stretches southeast from the Chadian border across north Darfur towards El Fasher.