Sudan: July 31, 2002

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File under "we told you so". On 30 July, aid workers and SPLA rebels said that the Sudanese military had launched a major offensive against rebels in the south, days after announcing a breakthrough in peace talks. Sudanese President Bashir had just concluded a two-day official visit to Uganda on the 26th, during which his host Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni brokered a historic meeting between the Sudanese leader and SPLA's Dr John Garang.

On that very same day, the SPLA claimed that more than 1,000 civilians had been killed since the government began its attack in Western Upper Nile region. Analysts figure the attacks are aimed at clearing the local population out to secure existing or potential oilfields.

Government forces supported by three helicopter gunships overran Tiam (435 miles southeast of Khartoum), forcing the 250 SPLA troops there to retreat. SPLA spokesmen said that nearly all the town's 3,000 civilians were trapped during the attack, while the few who managed to escape told the press that at least 1,000 others were killed by the government soldiers.

World Vision workers were attacked on the 29th at Waat (510 miles south of the capital of Khartoum), one was killed and three were abducted by a government-allied militia. A fifth aid worker managed to hide from the assailants and was evacuated.


 

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