NDJAMENA, Jan 13 (AFP) — Sudanese government planes have bombed the town of Tine in Sudan’s western Darfur region, a diplomat in Chad said on Tuesday.
“The bombardment comes after an ultimatum made a few days ago by the Sudanese authorities, demanding that the town of Tine be evacuated, failing which they would raze the town,” the diplomat, who asked not to be named, said.
The rebel Movement for Justice and Equality (MJE), which controls Tine, confirmed in a statement that the Khartoum government had launched a bombing raid on the town and other areas in Darfur on Monday, killing 45 people, “most of them children, women and the elderly”.
“The terrorist regime of Khartoum began the bombings on Monday January 12 at 9.45am on the town of Kornoi and the village of Forawya, destroying more than 100 homes, killing 25 people and injuring 41 others,” the statement said.
At least “20 people were killed and 53 injured” when the raids moved on to “the town of Tine and the villages of Bassaw and Be-ter”, said the statement, written in French.
Personnel at the Sudanese embassy in Chad refused to confirm or deny the alleged bombing raids.
“If there were bombings, they would only target rebel sites and positions,” the embassy said, adding that “no civilians live in Tine, only rebels”.
Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir vowed in December to annihilate the Darfur rebels, who rose up against Khartoum in February last year, claiming their region was being neglected by the government.
The uprising has so far claimed about 3 000 lives, displaced about 670 000 within Sudan and sent 80 000 fleeing to neighbouring Chad.
The main rebel group in Darfur is the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM). The MJE is said to have been created with backing from a key radical Islamic leader in Sudan, Hassan al-Tourabi, although he has denied any involvement with the group.
The Sudanese embassy in Chad has said that the two rebel groups “are one and the same”, and the MJE’s military spokesperson, Colonel Abdallah Abdel Karim, told AFP in Libreville by satellite telephone that the two groups “coordinate military activities”.