U.S. sees Sudan mobilizing for new fight in Darfour

Thursday, November 18, 2004

U.S. officials said the Khartoum regime has mobilized thousands of fighters in the Darfour province. They said the effort focused on the recruitment of the Janjaweed and other regime-aligned Arab militias.

Officials said the Arab militias were being employed as proxies for the regime in the war against black rebel groups. They said the Arab militias were told they could keep the booty seized from black villages.

On Nov. 9, Sudan agreed to ban what was termed "hostile flights" over Darfour, Middle East Newsline reported. But the officials said the United States did not expect that this would halt ground fighting as well as Arab attacks on black villages in Darfour.

Officials said the regime was not all to blame for the continuation of the conflict. They said rebel groups in Darfour were provoking authorities by abducting Arabs in the province.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan has reported military attacks on villages in southern Darfour as well as tribal clashes in three villages. In northern Darfour, aid agencies operating in the Zam Zam camp reported an increased presence of armed tribesmen around the camp.

"We've seen the mobilization of thousands of Arab militia in areas of west and south Darfour," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Nov. 3.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has warned that Khartoum intends to continue its policy of ethnic cleansing. The group said the April 2004 ceasefire has been a farce with rebel groups also abducting civilians.

"The government in particular has continued to use helicopter gunships in bombing attacks on civilian objects," the report said. "Fighting and displacement continue, particularly in South Darfour."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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