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[Courtesy Sudan Society]
KHARTOUM, April 28 (AFP) -- Sudanese officials have accused southern separatists and Israel of assisting rebels who attacked a city in west Sudan's Darfur region last week, press reports said Monday. The government newspaper Al Anbaa said Southern States Coordination Council Chairmman Riek Gai accused John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) of sedition in Darfur. "The rebel movement (SPLA) is behind the recent events in al-Fasher," Gai said in a statement Sunday. On Friday, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) said it had seized al-Fasher, capital of Northern Darfur state, but Khartoum rejected the claim, saying its forces had beaten back the rebel attack. Gai called the alleged SPLA aid to Darfur rebels "a hurdle in the peace process". Several rounds of peace talks have been held in neighboring Kenya in a bid to end a 20-year civil war that pits the Khartoum government, representing mostly Islamic Arab northern Sudan, against the SPLA, based in the mainly Christian and animist south. North Darfur State Governor Ibrahim Suleiman accused both the SPLA and Israel of having a hand in recent events there, in an interview published Friday by the daily Akhbar Al-Youm. "We firmly believe Garang's movement coordinates and communicates with this (Darfur) group, particularly since the (SPLA) movement has been blocked from doing anything in the south by concluding a ceasefire with the government," Suleiman told the newspaper. "The movement has decided to transfer operations to other areas," said Suleiman, who also holds the rank of general. He added: "We believe there was an Israeli hand in those criminal acts." The general said his government was holding talks on how to prevent more attacks, adding: "All political parties, including those of the opposition, except the Popular Congress (of Hassan al-Turabi), are taking part in those meetings." He withheld accusations against any specific party or tribe of involvement in the attacks, but said nine people had been arrested since Friday. Asked where the rebels were based, the governor said: "They are fortified on Jebel Sin (a mountain) between Jebel Marrah and the Shawal region" in north Darfur. "They are beseiged and the armed forces are determined to annihilate them

2003-05-03 Sat 13:12ct