Fresh fighting erupts in Darfur, situation remains tense

Khartoum- Sudan (PANA) -- Fresh fighting erupted in Darfur early Monday with repo rts of heavy fighting near the United Nations Joint Peacekeeping Force for Darfu r (UNAMID), which confirmed reports of heavy shelling, mortar fire and sounds of j et fighters around the region.
UNAMID chiefs said the fighting erupted in North Darfur but did not confirm who attacked first during the series of attacks in the regional capital of El Fasher .
However, main Darfur rebel faction leaders said they fought a defensive war agai nst an attack launched by the Sudanese army.
Sudan's Under Secretary in the Foreign Ministry , Dr.
Siddiq Mutrif, warned rece ntly that the seizure of Muhajiriya in South Darfur, would definitely lead to mo r e retaliatory attacks from either factions in South Darfur ahead of peace talks a imed at stabilising the crisis in the region.
UNAMID said explosions, shelling and sounds of jet fighters alerted the resident s of North Darfur, near its military base in the region, of a possible military a ction.
"The military action also led to rumours that the city was under attack by one o f the armed movements and that the Sudanese Armed Forces were defending the city and repulsing the attack," UNAMID said in a statement.
It said reports of the possible attack sent an immediate wave of fear among the people and created a sense of uncertainty of what might come next.
"The market was closed, the traffic jammed and school children were sent back to their homes," it said.
Although things seemed to be getting back to normal two hours after the events a nd despite the touring of the city by the Governor himself to ease tension, the s ituation remains tense, UNAMID said.
"UNAMID recalls its mandate to protect civilians and voices caution over the hum anitarian situation that might further deteriorate because of the continued viol e nce," it said.
UNAMID's Joint Special Representative Rodolphe Adada, expressed grave concern ov er the safety and security of the people in North Darfur and the region at large , warning that such escalations of insecurity would impede delivery of humanitari a n assistance to the population.
The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), one of the military movements in Darfur , said it was defending itself against an attack by the Sudanese army in North D a rfur.
"I call upon all warring parties to instantly cease hostilities and end this cyc le of violence that would only add to the suffering of the people of Darfur," JS R stressed.

26 january 2009 17:27:00

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