Sudan building up troops to counter challenge by rebels in Darfour
CAIRO — Sudan is staging a military buildup as rebels have staked their claims to oil-rich regions of the country.
Officials said the Khartoum regime was deploying thousands of troops in
the oil region in central Sudan, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the buildup in the South Kordofan
province was meant to block any attack by Sudanese rebels based in the
war-torn Darfour province.
"There is a growing threat by the rebels to this region," an official
South Kordofan borders Darfour and Abyei, areas of increasing fighting
with forces loyal to the Khartoum region. The semi-autonomous government in
southern Sudan has claimed the oil-rich area of Abyei. Sudan plans to
increase its oil production from 500,000 to 600,000 barrels per day in 2009.
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Officials said six battalions, or about 2,500 troops, were deployed in
South Kordofan. They said military buildup began in mid-November 2008 in
wake of rebel attacks, particularly by the Justice and Equality Movement,
"The aim is to stop the feverish attempts of JEM to transfer its
activities to the state of South Kordofan," another Sudanese official told
the official Sudanese News Agency.
Officials said JEM has been sending troops from Darfour to South
Kordofan in what appeared to mark preparations for a new rebel offensive.
They said JEM has sought to expand operations from Darfour to strategic
areas around Sudan. In May 2008, JEM sent thousands of fighters to attack
A Khartoum government statement said the military deployment was not
aimed against the southern-based Sudanese People's Liberation Army. SPLA has
accused Khartoum of violating its peace agreement in 2005.