The latest news out of Khartoum this week. I'm glad right now that I'm in the South and away from the fighting. The conflict in Darfur is separate from the civil war in the South, but in order for peace to stick in South Sudan the conflict in Darfur must be resolved.
From Sudan Radio Service:
12 May 2008 – (Khartoum) – Seventeen Sudan Armed Forces soldiers are confirmed dead and more than 15 wounded in an attack by the Darfur anti-government group, the Justice and Equality Movement, on Saturday in Omdurman.
The number of JEM soldiers killed has not been confirmed. However, Sudan Television reports two commanders of the movement, convoy leader Mohammed Salih Jabra and the intelligence chief Mohammed Nouri-Din, were killed.
No specific information about the number of civilians killed or wounded is yet available.
Sudan Radio Service Khartoum bureau producer Nichola Mandil reports that on Sunday the Governor of Khartoum state, Dr. Abdelalim Al-Mutasi, announced that a curfew is being imposed in order to help security organs search for any JEM fighters who may still be in the capital. The curfew means people will be restricted to their homes from 5 p.m. until 10 a.m. the next day.
Mandil says despite the curfew, Khartoum itself is starting to return to normal, with only Omdurman still off-limits.
[Nichola Mandil]: “From eastern Sudan, Port Sudan and Kassala, people are coming to Khartoum by bus. From Gezira, Madeni and from El-Obeid the movement is fine. Only movement is restricted in Omdurman and also in some areas from Khartoum-North. But otherwise in different areas the markets are opened, but only to enter Omdurman is not possible at all and from Omdurman to enter Khartoum is not possible.”
Mandil quotes Governor Al-Mutasi asking citizens in the capital to respect the curfew and report what the governor called “suspicious movements.”
Meanwhile, Sudan Television is quoting sources within the Sudan Armed Forces as saying they will pay 250 million Sudanese pounds for any information that leads to the capture or death of JEM leader, Dr. Khalil Ibrahim.
On Sunday, Dr. Ibrahim told the BBC that he was in Khartoum and was headed to the Republican Palace in order to topple the Sudan government, but the Sudan Armed Forces says it has repulsed and chased the movement away from the capital. Early Monday morning there were some reports that Dr. Ibrahim has now been captured, but this could not be confirmed.
Some eyewitnesses in Khartoum told Sudan Radio Service on Sunday said that they saw many dead bodies lying on the streets in Omdurman and vehicles apparently belonging to JEM were destroyed and burning.
The eyewitnesses also said that they saw JEM soldiers moving all over Omdurman, especially around Suk Libya and even up to Suk Al-Shabi.
After returning from Saudi Arabia, President Omer Al-Bashir says that Sudan has cut diplomatic relations with Chad following the attack, blaming Chad for supporting and financing the anti-government group. Some alleged JEM soldiers who were captured appeared on Sudan Television saying they came from Chad.
However, Chad says it was not involved in the attacks. Speaking to Al-Jazeera television, the Chadian information minister called on the Sudanese government and all the Darfur movements to continue seeking a peaceful solution to the conflict.
But a peaceful solution seems further away than ever. Presidential Adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail says that peace talks between the national government and the Justice and Equality Movement would be suspended as a result of the attacks.
The attack on the capital had impact outside Darfur, as well. First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, condemned the attacks and announced the SPLM would postpone its second national convention, which was supposed to start in Juba on Sunday.
The attack also garnered attention from outside the country. The United States government says it is very concerned by the outbreak of violence in Khartoum and is urging both sides to exercise restraint. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon also expressed concern about the fighting and called for an immediate ceasefire.