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Report: Sudan destroyed one-third of Abyei; 'Tens of thousands' displaced

CAIRO — The regime of President Omar Bashir has destroyed much of the disputed region in southern Sudan.


The Satellite Sentinel Project asserted that Bashir's air force and army have destroyed at least 33 percent of all civilian homes and other buildings in Abyei. The project, basing its findings on satellite photographs, said the destruction also included a key bridge that could block the return of more than 150,000 civilians who fled Abyei during the Bashir offensive in May.

"Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced," the report said. "Approximately one-third of all civilian structures in Abyei town have been razed."

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The report, drafted in cooperation with the Harvard Carr Center in the United States, said Bashir sent main battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, mobile artillery and other weapons platforms in Abyei. Most of the military weaponry was said to be focused on the town of Abyei. In the photographs, at least 10 MBTs were seen in the center of Abyei.

The northern Sudanese army also destroyed the Banton Bridge south of Abyei, which has fallen into the Kiir River, expected to swell with the onset of the rainy season. The report said this would block access for those who sought to return to their homes in wake of the Khartoum invasion of the oil-rich region.

"Sudanese government forces are poised next to push Southern Sudanese troops out of Blue Nile and the Nuba Mountains," John Prendergast, a founder of the Enough Project, said. "Along with the military occupation of Abyei, the Khartoum regime is laying the groundwork for a takeover of oil fields near Sudan's north-south border, its ultimate objective."

On May 21, the Sudanese military began its assault on Abyei and drove out forces loyal to the southern government in Juba. Six days later, the army declared an end to operations and called on residents to return home.

"If there are no consequences for these violations of the North-South peace deal and for the war crimes being committed in Abyei, the likelihood of full-scale war increases daily," Prendergast said on May 29.

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