February 22, 2011 (KHARTOUM) — The US State Department today said alarmed by threats issued last week by a rebel group to attack the airports in the restive region of Darfur saying such actions are unacceptable and put civilians and peacekeepers at risk
The Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi warned in a statement released on 20 February that all the airports in the region are “strategic military targets” asking the UNAMID, international and non-governmental organizations to stop using these sites.
The rebel group said the airports are used by the Sudanese warplanes to commit atrocities against civilians and to transport ammunition and weapons to Darfur.
UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari yesterday slammed the statement of the rebel group saying he called Minnawi and warned him of “the grave consequences of any actions that may harm civilian populations, international personnel and operations or hamper the provision of crucial humanitarian assistance in Darfur”.
Gambari went further to say he reminded Minnawi that any attack on the peacekeepers is considered a war crime under international law.
“Attacks by any party that place innocent civilians, peacekeepers, and aid workers at risk are unacceptable and inconsistent with the spirit of working collectively toward a peaceful and more prosperous future for the people of Darfur,” said State Department spokesperson Philip J. Crowley on Tuesday.
He further stressed that Washington “discourages” such attacks and urged the warring parties in Darfur to stop hostilities and join international efforts to reach a negotiated settlement.
The Sudanese army minimized Minnawi’s statements saying his threats are meaningless. The Sudan Armed Forces spokesperson Khaled Al-Sawarmi said these threats are for media consumption. He also stressed that all the airport in Darfur are protected.
The peacekeeping operation said intensified patrols in and around Shangil Tobaya to provide protection to the civilians there. Further following several days of fighting in Wadi Mura, North Darfur, a UNAMID assessment team found that civilians abandoned some villages and fled to Tawilla and Zamzam camps.
Minnawi who was the first to sign a peace agreement in May 2006 denounced formally this month his pact with the government. The government in the past objected his participation in the Doha process to settle their differences over the implementation of the deal.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/US-says-Minnawi-s-threats-to,38082