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Ban concerned over Darfur

world Updated: Sep 13, 2007 10:21 IST

Fearing that the continuing violence might derail the fragile peace process, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep concern over the Sudanese Government's "brutal aerial and ground attack" on a South Darfur town that has left at least 25 civilians dead.

But he stopped short of condemning the attack which took place just days after he visited the war-torn region and held discussions with the Sudanese leaders.

Ban told the Security Council yesterday that the attack indicated that "we must all renew our strong appeals to the parties to show restraint in the lead-up to political negotiations in October" that are being held to try to resolve the conflict that has engulfed Darfur since 2003.

The African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which is operating in Darfur until the hybrid UN-AU peacekeeping force (UNAMID) takes over next year, reported that fierce fighting took place Tuesday afternoon after an aerial and ground attack on Haskanita in South Darfur State.

In a closed-door briefing on his visit to Sudan, Chad and Libya, which ended at the weekend, Ban said the attack was an apparent retaliation for an attack by the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on the Wad Banda military base on August 29.

JEM is one of the rebel groups that did not sign last year's Darfur Peace Agreement with the Government.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and at least 2.2 million others have had to leave their homes because of the conflict between Government forces, allied Janjaweed militia and the rebel groups. An estimated four million Darfurians depend on humanitarian aid.