Meanwhile, Sudan's offensive continues in North Darfur. Battle and casualty reports are few and far between, but that's the way Sudan wants it. It wants this fight away from international observers, African Union (AU) peacekeepers, and journalists-- especially journalists.
September 28, 2006: Government security forces got in a firefight in the capital, Khartoum. That's not unusual, but the firefight was with members of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-Minnawi faction), a Darfur rebel group that signed the May 5 peace deal. Sudanese security troops raided the SLM's Khartoum office and arrested two members of the group. One person died in the firefight. The SLM rebels then attacked a Khartoum police station in what was described as a "retaliatory attack." One report said the SLM rebels took several policemen as hostages.
The Sudan government signed a draft peace agreement with the Eastern Front guerrilla organization. Eritrea mediated the negotiations which began in late June 2006. Talks will continue in July, with a final agreement expected later this year.
The US told Sudan that the Sudanese government must choose between "cooperation and confrontation" with the UN and international community over the deployment of a robust UN peacekeeping force in Darfur..
September 26, 2006: The Sudan government once again said that it would not allow a UN peacekeeping force to deploy in Darfur.
September 24, 2006: The AU said that its AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS) would remain in Darfur through December 31, 2006. The AU mandate was to expire on September 30, 2006. The AU currently has 7000 peacekeepers in Darfur. There is a possibility that another 2000 to 3000 AU-sponsored troops could be added to the force, but that is diplomatic speculation. The AU force needs more troops but it also needs light armored vehicles, transport and attack helicopters, improved communications gear, and better logistical support.
September 22, 2006: The UN voted to extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping and peace monitoring mission in south Sudan. This force was deployed to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement that ended the war between the Sudanese government and rebel organizations in southern Sudan. The mandate was supposed to expire September 24, but has been extended into October.
September 20, 2006: The UN accused Sudan of indiscriminately bombing villages in North Darfur. The attacks have been carried out by Sudanese transport aircraft rigged to drop bombs. One attack took place on the town of Tabarat (North Darfur) on September 10.
The Sudanese government continues to resist demands by the US and Great Britain that it allow a UN-led peacekeeping force to take over command of the Darfur peacekeeping operations. UN Security Council Resolution 1706 said that the UN "invites" Sudan to permit the peacekeeping force. Sudan interprets that to mean that it has a "veto" over a UN peacekeeping force deployment.