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Urgent update on the situation in Darfur

This weekend, a significant escalation in the conflict in Darfur happened: a rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked the Government of Sudan in the capitol Khartoum. The following is a rundown of the news from this weekend:

The set-up:

On Thursday, the Sudanese government accused the rebel group JEM of plotting to attack the capital of Khartoum and stepped up security.

The attacks:

Then, just today, heavy fighting broke out between JEM and the Sudanese army near Khartoum. They infiltrated significantly into Korfodan, the province between Khartoum and Darfur, and then launched their attacks. This is the first time JEM has attacked outside of Darfur. A JEM spokesperson said its aim was to topple the Sudanese governmen. Khartoum says that it successfully repulsed the attacks but also imposed a curew on the city; it also said that it would no longer engage in peace talks with JEM and would respond militarily.

The attacks were condemned by both UN chief Ban Ki-Moon and Salva Kiir of the SPLM.

The aftermath:

In Khartoum, the Government of Sudan has cracked down on the civilian population and imposed an indefinite curfew as it searched for JEM rebel leaders and members that allegedly remain in the capitol. It even arrested a Sudanese opposition leader, Hassan al-Turabi, who has no connection with JEM, and announced the killing of an alleged right-hand man of a JEM leader.

Meanwhile, JEM rebel leader, Khalil Ibrahim, warned from hiding that JEM would stage further attacks on the Sudanese capitol. There is also news coming out that JEM received help from Sudanese army officers.

The Sudanese Governemnt accused the Chad of backing the attack and formally broke off relations with the Chadian government. Reports of fresh fighting have been reported along the Sudan/Chad border. The Embassy of Sudan issued a statement linking the attack to the government of Chad, cut its ties with the Government of Chad, and threatened to retaliate. . Omar al-Bashir’s television address said, ““we hold the Chadian regime fully responsible for what happened.” Chad denies this claim.

Click here for photographs of the aftermath of the attack. Click here for a video on the attack. The New York Times answers the question, “why did the rebels attack Khartoum?”

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