Sudanese forces on major offensive: Darfur rebels

August 14th, 2008 - 12:50 am ICT by IANS  

Nairobi/Khartoum, Aug 13 (DPA) Rebels in Darfur said Wednesday that the Sudanese government had launched a major offensive against rebel strongholds in the north of the restive western Sudanese province. According to the BBC, which quoted a leader of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), around 270 vehicles and several hundreds of the notorious Janjaweed militia attacked a rebel-controlled city.

At least nine rebels and nine civilians have been killed in the fighting, the rebels said.

The Sudanese army refused to confirm the offensive.

Another rebel leader told the BBC that the Sudanese army was attempting to clear out rebels from the area in order to allow Chinese oil companies to prospect in the area.

Sudan and China have strong links, with China buying much of the African nation’s oil and supplying arms.

The conflict in Darfur began when black tribesmen took up arms against what they called decades of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated Sudanese government in Khartoum.

The UN says up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced by the five years of conflict.

The Sudanese government has been accused of using the Janjaweed militia to commit atrocities against Darfur’s black population and suppress the rebels.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in July asked for an arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir on war crimes charges relating to Darfur.

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