[dehai-news] Reuters): Sudan says suspects Israel behind raids on convoys

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 07:25:12 EST

Sudan says suspects Israel behind raids on convoys

Fri Mar 27, 2009 11:50am GMT

* Sudan says up to 40 killed in attacks in Jan and Feb

* Sudan denies the convoys were smuggling weapons

* Sudan suspects Israel of responsibility (Adds Sadig quotes, background)

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM, March 27 (Reuters) - Sudan said on Friday it believed Israel was
behind two attacks on suspected smuggler convoys which killed up to 40
people in the remote north of the country in January and February.

"The first thought is that it was the Americans that did it. We contacted
the Americans and they categorically denied they were involved," Foreign
Ministry spokesman Ali al-Sadig said. "We are still trying to verify it.
Most probably it involved Israel."

His comments were the first official government acknowledgement of the
strikes, first reported earlier this week in Egyptian Arabic-language
newspaper el-Shorouk.

Sadig said one attack was thought to have taken place in the last week of
January and one in mid-February.

"We didn't know about the first attack until after the second one. They were
in an area close to the border with Egypt, a remote area, desert, with no
towns, no people," he told Reuters.

Sudan was gathering evidence at the sites where the convoys were hit, he

"There is no proof they were carrying weapons. They were smuggling
something, but the pickups were small. You don't carry weapons in small
pickups," he said.

The New York Times on Friday quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that
Israeli warplanes carried out an attack in January that was suspected of
ferrying arms to Gaza during Israel's offensive against Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Thursday that Israel acted
"wherever we can" to strike at its enemies, but did not specifically mention
the attack in Sudan.

"If it was Israel then it is clear that they were acting on bad information
that the vehicles were carrying arms," Sudan's Sadig said. "It is illegal to
infringe the sovereignty of another country.

He said that Sudan would not react to the attacks while an investigation is

"We will reserve the right to react to this later. At the moment it is not
confirmed it was Israel."

(Writing by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Dominic Evans)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


Somali refugees in Kenya face humanitarian emergency

Fri Mar 27, 2009 12:01am GMT

* Somali refugees in Kenya face humanitarian disaster

* Charity expects 100,000 new arrivals this year

* Fears of cholera, women and children most at risk

By Richard Lough

NAIROBI, March 27 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees holed
up in northern Kenya face a "humanitarian emergency" this year as disease
starts spreading through overcrowded camps, Oxfam warned on Friday.

More than 250,000 people live in Dadaab's three sprawling camps and Oxfam
said 100,000 more are expected to arrive before the end of the year as al
Shabaab, a pro-al Qaeda Islamist insurgent group, battles Somalia's fragile
new government.

The aid agency said an assessment of the camp had uncovered "a serious
public health crisis caused by a lack of basic services, severe overcrowding
and a chronic lack of funding".

It said illnesses including cholera would run rampant through the
settlements unless urgent steps were taken.

"Conditions in Dadaab are dire and need immediate attention. People are not
getting the aid they are entitled to," said Philippa Crosland-Taylor, head
of Oxfam GB in Kenya.

Dadaab's refugees live in shacks made from branches and plastic sheeting in
one of the world's largest refugee camps.

Oxfam said half the people there have inadequate access to water and
sanitation. More than 20 recent cases of cholera have been confirmed at the
camps in arid eastern Kenya.

Aid workers say the humanitarian situation in Somalia is the worst in the
world. Fighting has killed more than 17,000 civilians since the start of
2007, one million more have been driven from their homes and about a third
of the population -- more than 3 million people -- need emergency food aid.

Oxfam said more land needed to be set aside for Somali refugees who fled
over the border into Kenya, and more money devoted to improve their living
conditions once they got there.

Kenya closed its long, porous desert border with the failed Horn of Africa
state after the U.S.-backed defeat of an Islamic Courts group in Jan. 2007.

But Oxfam said the closure had failed to stem a rising tide of people trying
to escape the bloodshed as al Shabaab tightens its grip on large swathes of
central and southern Somalia.

The move has actually increased health risks, the charity warned, because
frontier clinics were shut down and now refugees no longer get any check-up
before arriving at the camps.

"The Kenyan government must address this humanitarian crisis, rather than
ignoring it," Crosland-Taylor said.

Al Shabaab is the main stumbling block for Somalia's new president, Sheikh
Sharif Ahmed, who is trying to restore peace and stability after 18 years of
civil war. (Editing by Daniel Wallis)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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