Monday, December 20, 2004

Rebels attack Darfur oil, Libyans mediate in Abuja, AU probe attack on AU helicopter

Yesterday, following massive international pressure, Khartoum announced that it was calling off the offensive, but AU diplomats told Agence France Presse that reports from the field had said that fighting was continuing.

Rebels attacked a South Darfur oil pumping station at the weekend, the police chief said today. An oil ministry official in Khartoum said the operations of the Sharif field, pumping about 3,000 barrels a day, had not been affected by the attack.

AU official said shots fired at an AU helicopter had hurt efforts to monitor military activity in the region. The AU in Darfur has launched an investigation into the attack. Unidentified gunmen opened fire on the aircraft at 1545 GMT on Sunday as it flew over the southern Darfur town of Labado to monitor fighting.

Talks in Abuja broke down last week after the Sudanese government breached an African union-brokered ceasefire deal and ordered an attack on Labado by a large contingent of soldiers and allied Janjaweed militia.

AU spokesman Assane Ba said the pan-African body would give Libyan peace brokers more time to persuade the feuding parties to resume negotiations and was not yet planning to report the Darfur situation to the U.N. Security Council.

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