Chinese help sought as 130 killed in Sudan
BEIJING / JUBA
The African Union-United Mission in Sudan operates primarily in Darfur with the aim of performing peacekeeping operations related to the Darfur conflict. REUTERS photoRebel groups in Sudan said Feb. 27 they had captured a Sudanese army garrison near the border with South in an operation that they claimed to kill 130 government forces. Meanwhile, Sudan government asked for China’s help to resolve the dispute over oil revenues with South Sudan.
The rebels said in a statement they killed 130 members of the government forces in the attack. The figure could not be independently verified. The South Sudan government said none of its forces were involved, but the assault fuelled tensions between the neighbors already at odds over oil exports and border disputes. Any involvement of southern forces would have violated a non-aggression pact signed by the two sides this month.
The clashes on Feb. 26 took place in the South Kordofan province on Sudan’s side of the ill-defined border with South Sudan, a flashpoint between the two countries. The newly formed rebel umbrella group Sudan Revolutionary Front said its forces were behind the assault on the military post around Lake Obyad, which lies near the boundary. Both countries trade accusations of supporting insurgents in each other’s territory. Tensions have also mounted in a dispute over how much Juba should pay Khartoum to export its oil. Authorities in landlocked South Sudan say Sudan has since December stolen over $800 million worth of oil, which has to be exported via a pipeline through the north.
Driven by its oil interests, China is caught in the middle of the dispute, despite efforts to build ties to the new government in South Sudan while maintaining long-standing relations with Sudan. China buys about two-thirds of the countries’ oil.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said that during a two-day stay in Beijing he delivered a letter from his president to Chinese President Hu Jintao. The message, he said, was to offer Sudan’s continuing support for China’s investment in Sudan. He accused unspecified foreign powers of inciting South Sudan to cut oil supplies to Sudan. Xi called on both sides to resolve the dispute through negotiations and urged Sudan to “take practical measures to ensure the personal safety and property of Chinese companies and citizens working in Sudan.”