- Sudan's government has ordered the United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) out of a town in South Darfur as it advances to Muhajiriya to launch an attack against rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement.
A local newspaper, Sudan Tribune said government forces are planning to take the town, Muhajiriya, which was seized on 15 January by JEM from a group allied to the government, led by Minni Minawi.
"The Sudanese army is moving tanks to Muhageriya; this move indicates that they are intending to bomb the town. This intention is confirmed by the demand of UNAMID pullout," said a rebel spokesman, JEM Legislative Council Speaker Tahir Al-Faki.
Reports have revealed that rebels are opposing the Mission's pullout in the town, saying a power vacuum could endanger civilians in the town. "UNAMID is there to protect the civilian population and should not simply accept the notification of the Government of Sudan and leave the civilians unprotected," JEM said in a statement.
The peacekeepers said that thousands of civilians gathered around their base after warplanes attacked the town last week and government soldiers and allied Janjaweed militia made a failed attack Thursday.
Rebels took up arms in Sudan's western Darfur region in 2003, citing neglect and marginalisation by the central government. To date 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been displaced.
Sudanese forces frequently bomb rebel areas in Darfur, despite a UN Security Council ban on military flights over the western region.
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