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Rebels accuse Chadian army of incursion into Darfur

March 15, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Two Darfur rebel groups on Thursday accused the Chadian army of making an incursion into Sudan’s western region.

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Chadian soldiers hold their weapons at the airport of the recently recaptured town of Gao, 28 January 2013 (REUTERS/Adama Diarra)

A joint statement signed by Gibril Adam Bilal from the Justice and Equality movement (JEM) and Abdulla Mursal from the Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) said that a Chadian military contingent comprised of 200 armed vehicles and a number of tanks penetrated 150 kilometres inside Darfur.

The statement noted that the intervention coincides with extremely complex security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur, recalling the Chadian military intervention at the beginning of fighting in the region and the huge support it rendered to the regime in Khartoum.

This support, says the statement, has prolonged the war and caused the killing and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians.

Both groups demanded Chadian troops immediately withdraw from Sudanese territory, stressing that the people of Darfur are now increasingly aware of Chad’s destructive role in the conflict.

Sudan and Chad established a joint force in January 2010 to monitor their borders within the framework of a normalisation process, following a long proxy war in Darfur and eastern Chad.

In the past, Chad was seen as the main supporter of Darfur’s JEM but relations between the two sides has deteriorated since Khartoum and Ndjamena reconciled their differences in 2010.

Last month, JEM claimed that it had clashed with the Chadian army in the remote area of Um Dukhun in South Darfur, which is about 70 kilometres from the common border.

This was in response to an attack by Chadian forces on a JEM camp in the same area. The rebel group said it repelled the attack, killing more than a dozen Chadian soldiers and destroying many of the army’s vehicles.

There was no response from Chad to these allegations.

(ST)