october 11, 2007 (CAIRO) — A Darfur rebel group accused Khartoum of
trying to kill its leaders after a Sudanese air defence unit
threatened to shoot down an African Union plane carrying the group’s
military leadership on Thursday.
“The plane carrying the leaders was forced to make an emergency
landing in Kutum (in North Darfur) or face being shot down,” Sudan
Liberation Movement-Unity spokesman, Mahjoub Hussein, told AFP by
telephone from London.
“The leaders were asked to surrender and it was only after
discussions involving the United Nations that they were set free. It
was an attempt to kill the leaders,” he said.
An African Union airplane had been transporting senior military
leaders Abdallah Yahia and Abu Bakr Kadwa, as well as other military
figures to Juba in south Sudan for talks with other rebels, Hussein
“An air defence unit said it would shoot down the plane if it
didn’t land immediately,” Hussein said. “Eventually, they were allowed
to leave for Juba.”
On Tuesday, the group warned it would not attend peace talks in
Libya on October 27 but would instead “spread war” around Sudan if
Khartoum did not immediately end reported offensives in the ravaged
western region of Darfur.
The warning came as the SLM faction of Minni Minawi, from which the
SLM-Unity split after Minawi made peace with Khartoum, said it might
resume fighting after what it said was a government attack on one of
its towns that killed over 50 people.
Conflict and famine in Darfur have left at least 200,000 people
dead and two million displaced since Khartoum enlisted the Janjaweed
militia to put down an ethnic minority revolt in 2003. Aid groups have
blamed the militia in particular for widespread rape, murder and
destruction of villages.
Khartoum says only 9,000 people have died in the conflict.