Sudan carries out airstrikes in Darfur

2011-05-17 11:01

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Khartoum - The Sudanese army has carried out airstrikes against two villages in the troubled western Darfur region, international peacekeepers said

Violence in Darfur, scene of an insurgency pitting mostly non-Arab rebels against government troops backed by largely Arab militia, has fallen from its peak in 2003 and 2004 but a surge in attacks since December has forced tens of thousands to flee.

Qatar has hosted peace talks that have been delayed by rebel divisions and continued military operations on the ground as Khartoum has gradually reasserted control over major towns and other previously rebel-held areas.

Sudanese forces flew air strikes against Labado and Esheraya villages in southern Darfur on Sunday, the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission (Unamid) said.

"We are trying to find out about casualties," said a spokesperson for Unamid.

The Sudanese army could not be immediately reached for comment.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of masterminding genocide and war crimes in Darfur.

The United Nations says as many as 300 000 people have died during the conflict. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.

Earlier this month, Sudan went ahead with a plan to create two additional states in Darfur, a move rebels have condemned as intended to strengthen Khartoum's control over the region.

Khartoum also plans to hold a referendum on July 01 on making Darfur a single region to upgrade its status despite rebel demands to wait until a peace deal has been signed.

Sudan's oil-producing south is due to break away from Khartoum on July 09 after its people voted overwhelmingly to secede in a January referendum, a vote promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.

Read more on:    omar al-bashir  |  sudan  |  east africa
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