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Monday, February 1, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Renewed war seen in Sudan as heavy weapons flow to south

WASHINGTON — Sudan is being threatened by the flow of heavy weapons from such rivals as Chad and Libya.   

Officials said the United States has been tracking the flow of weapons to insurgents and secessionists in southern Sudan. They said the flow could lead to renewed revolt against the Khartoum regime.

"They [weapons] are coming from all directions," U.S. envoy to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said.

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In a Jan. 26 briefing, Ms. Rice said the heavy weapons flow could disrupt elections in Sudan, scheduled for April 2009. She said the UN, with a peace-keeping force in several provinces in Sudan, has been tracking developments.

"We heard today from the UN that it is not just small arms but some heavier munitions that seem to be flowing in," Ms. Rice said. "We weren't given specifics on that."

Officials said rebel groups in the south could be preparing to reorganize and renew operations against the Khartoum regime. They said former rebels were accusing the regime of President Omar Bashir of failing to enact reforms as well as oppressing opponents. In December 2009, Khartoum enacted measures that gave the intelligence services greater powers.

"But we have seen, in the violence that is taking place in the south, a higher degree of sophistication and lethality of the weapons employed," Ms. Rice said. "And that's a source of concern."

Ms. Rice said the weapons to southern secessionists were coming from northern Sudan and abroad. She did not identify the weapons, but other officials said they included artillery and rockets.

"But I imagine that weapons are also coming from elsewhere and we would like a full accounting," Ms. Rice said.

Officials said the UN was bracing for another civil war in Sudan. They said the Sudanese military has been ordered to expand operations against rebels in several provinces.

"A return to conflict remains a very real possibility, with potentially catastrophic humanitarian, political, military and economic consequences throughout the region," a report by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said. "Preventing such an outcome will require all the support that the international and regional communities can offer."

Sudan has already launched an offensive against Darfour rebels. On Jan. 30, the Sudanese Army reported killing 15 rebels in a clash with the Justice and Equality Movement in western Darfour.

A Sudanese Army spokesman said the battle with JEM lasted three hours in the town of Jebal Moun near the Chad border. The spokesman said the surviving rebels, who had attacked a border military post, fled to Chad.

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