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
"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
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.