Sudan: The Bandits Find a Way


October 9, 2005: Bandits in Sudan's Darfur region are once again attacking and robbing aid workers. Attacks on aid workers have increased. Truck supply convoys are particularly vulnerable. While security appeared to be improving two months ago as African Union (AU) peacekeepers began to operate throughout the area, the bandits may have figured out that the 6000 peacekeepers can't be everywhere at once. The AU intends to double that number to 12,000 sometime in early 2006, but at the moment there are not enough peacekeepers and not enough armored trucks to protect the aid convoys entering Darfur (particularly West Darfur state).

Meanwhile, Darfur rebel in-fighting between the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) may make a new ceasefire more difficult, much less a lasting peace settlement. The rebels situation may be even more complicated, since there are "factions within factions" in the SLM and JEM.There are tribal interests at play. The powerful Fur tribe plays a major role in SLM leadership.

The SLM and JEM cannot control the small factions any more than the Sudan government can control the Janjaweed Islamist militias it supports with money and supplies. While many suspect the attacks on road convoys are the handiwork for the Janjaweed, the truth is in chaotic Darfur AU peacekeepers and the UN cannot be sure.

October 8, 2005: Two AU peacekeepers, and two civilians, were killed in an ambush in Darfur. It's not known if the attackers were bandits, or militiamen working for the government. The AU now has seven infantry battalions (each with about 600 troops) in Darfur, as part of a total force of 6,000 troops.

October 7, 2005: More Ugandan LRA rebels have entered southern Sudan. It's uncertain if the south Sudan rebels, or the army, will go after the LRA. In the past, the LRA was left alone, if the LRA did not raid in Sudan.

October 6, 2005: In the south, the SSDF (South Sudan Defence Forces) has agreed to integrate itself into the army, thus carrying out part of the peace deal for the southern rebels.

October 4, 2005: Government and Darfur rebel negotiators met in Nigeria. Not much is expected to come from this.

October 1, 2005: The UN is threatening the government with war crimes prosecutions is the government attacks on Darfur civilians do not stop. The government denies any responsibility for such violence, but the UN does not accept that.




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