INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Jem/Sla-Unity Launch Brazen Attack Ahead of Peace

Published: Tue 4 Sep 2007 01:14 PM
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O 041314Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8398
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA IMMEDIATE
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DEPARTMENT FOR AF A/S FRAZER, AF S/E NATSIOS, AND AF/SPG
NSC FOR PITTMAN AND HUDSON
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV MOPS AU UN SU
SUBJECT: JEM/SLA-UNITY LAUNCH BRAZEN ATTACK AHEAD OF PEACE
TALKS
1. (SBU) An estimated 250 rebel fighters allied with the
Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation
Army (SLA)/Unity struck a police installation in North
Kordofan on August 29, resulting in the death of nearly 50
policemen, according to a variety of credible Embassy
sources. It was the largest rebel attack associated with the
conflict in Darfur to be launched in over eight months. The
UN and the AU condemned the incident, and the U.S. issued a
similar condemnation on September 3, which was prominently
features on page one of most Sudanese dailies. Suleiman
Jamous, the former SLA humanitarian coordinator and a
political ally of both JEM and the SLA/Unity, also denounced
the attack.
2. (SBU) Lasting just two hours, the rebels launched the
assault on a camp of the Central Reserve Forces in Wad Banda,
south of Al Nahud, at 1500 hours local time. Reports of the
number of police fatalities ranges from 41 to 46, with 11
wounded. Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) stationed in the area
pursued the attackers, killing between 20 and 50. In eerily
familiar comments during a later visit to the site, Minister
of the Interior Al Zubeir Bashir Taha suggested that the
Sudanese Government may arm the local population to "protect
themselves." A Khartoum-based association representing the
area's inhabitants has challenged this proposal and plans to
send a delegation to Wad Banda to discourage its inhabitants
from taking up arms.
3. (SBU) Comment: The attack represents a disturbing
expansion of the Darfur conflict into neighboring Kordofan.
SLA/Unity led by Abdullah Yehia--and estimated to be the
strongest Darfur rebel movement--and the JEM faction led by
Khalil Ibrahim issued a brazen claim of responsibility for
the attack. While both groups participated in the late-July
Arusha conference as part of the UN/AU peace process, the
incident calls into question ongoing UN/AU assertions of
rebel support for the political process, particularly among
the armed factions. At the same time, JEM and SLA/Unity may
be attempting to strengthen their hand prior to the start of
UN/AU-sponsored negotiations in October. Post anticipates
that the Sudanese Government may launch a limited military
offensive in response to the attack, under the auspices of
improving security in North Kordofan. End comment.
FERNANDEZ
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