SUDAN WATCH: UNAMID say JEM repulsed at base

Monday, May 25, 2009

UNAMID say JEM repulsed at base

Peacekeepers say Darfur rebels repulsed at base
Mon May 25, 2009 KHARTOUM (Reuters) - excerpt:
Rebel fighters failed to capture a Sudanese army base in Darfur, International peacekeepers said Monday, contradicting earlier reports of an insurgent victory.

The joint U.N./African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force originally said raiders had overrun the army base in the settlement of Umm Baru, close to the Chadian border in north Darfur Sunday night.

But UNAMID Information Director Kemal Saiki said Monday the reports from peacekeepers there had been confused.

"They did make a push for it, but they did not overrun the post. Put it down to the fog of war," Saiki said.

Sudan's army spokesman Brigadier Uthman al-Agbash told state media that government soldiers had routed the rebel forces and 43 fighters from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had been killed and 54 injured.

JEM said it attacked the base Sunday night and gave varying accounts of the fighting. Senior commander Suleiman Sandal insisted JEM was still largely in control of the town on Monday morning and had sent out units to confront an expected government counter-attack from the south and east.

JEM humanitarian chief Suleiman Jamous told Reuters the rebel forces had pulled out of the town after government planes started bombing the area.

"We wanted to save the people of Umm Baru from the bombing. We pulled out after we achieved what we set out to achieve, which was to attack the base and limit the soldiers' ability to harass civilians," Jamous said. [...]

KHARTOUM BOMB

A bomb was left outside a Khartoum office of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) Monday but failed to explode, the former rebel group said.

The SPLM, which fought for two decades in southern Sudan against Khartoum's rule but is now a junior partner in the government, said the bomb was at an office where senior SPLM official Yasir Arman is based.

A pro-government paper recently called for the killing of Arman over comments he had made objecting to the application of Islamic sharia law to non-Muslims. The paper was briefly suspended from publication. [...]

(Reporting by Andrew Heavens; writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni and Alastair Sharp; editing by Robert Woodward)
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Update from Reuters 25 May 2009:
Sudan's army spokesman Brigadier Uthman al-Agbash told state media that government soldiers had routed the rebel forces and 43 JEM fighters had been killed and 54 injured. He told the Sudanese Media Centre 20 of his soldiers had also been killed and 31 injured.

"The remnants of JEM's armed forces have fled to the Sudan- Chad border," he said. Khartoum accuses its neighbour Chad of backing JEM.

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