Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sudan Threatens to Destroy Chad Troops

Sudan threatens to destroy Chad troops

By Andrew Heavens

Khartoum - Sudan on Wednesday threatened to destroy any Chad forces that invaded its territory, stepping up its rhetoric after Chad said it was readying its troops to cross the countries' shared border.

Chad's interim defence minister said on Tuesday his forces would enter Sudan within hours to intercept rebels, as recent tensions between the two oil-producers mounted.

Sudanese officials on Wednesday said they had not seen any signs of a Chadian attack overnight, but were ready for any incursion.

"The Sudanese Ministry of Defence pointed out it will not tolerate any aggression on the Sudanese lands, and warned that the Armed Forces will destroy any force that attempts to attack the Sudanese territories," read a statement on the Suna state media agency.

The underdeveloped neighbours regularly accuse each other of supporting each others rebels.

Troubled relations have worsened in recent weeks. Chad said Khartoum backed a rebel attack earlier this month, hours after the countries had signed a reconciliation deal in Doha.

The Chadian government went on to admit launching air attacks inside Sudan in a bid to wipe out rebel camps.

Khartoum, which denied backing the rebels, has up to now made relatively restrained public statements, referring only to unspecified repercussions of any Chadian attack and signalling that it was still seeking a diplomatic resolution.

In another sign of heightened tensions in the remote region, U.N. sources said they had unconfirmed reports Sudanese army planes bombed land close to the Chad border in north Darfur on Monday and Tuesday, the site of recent clashes between Khartoum and Darfur rebels.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were also reports from the area that rebel forces had fired back, using anti-aircraft guns.

No one was immediately available to comment from Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement, which says it is holding the key town of Kornoi in the area, or the Sudanese armed forces.

Khartoum says N'Djamena arms and supports JEM, one of two main Darfur rebel groups that launched a rebellion against the Sudanese government in 2003. - Reuters

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