Eritrea Accused of Backing Planned Rebel Offensive in Sudan
The government has "concrete evidence" that Eritrea is helping Sudanese rebels plan an offensive in eastern Sudan, a Sudanese official charged in remarks published here Tuesday.
The Eritrean government "is involved in a military plan targeting east Sudan" in reprisal for Khartoum's alleged support for Ethiopia in its war with Eritrea, eastern Sudan's Kassala State Governor Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid said.
The independent As-Sahafi ad-Dawli newspaper quoted him as accusing Eritrea of "planning and carrying out military operations for the rebel movement," the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).
Hamid did not elaborate on what evidence his government had.
But the daily has cited unnamed sources as saying SPLA forces, reinforced by Eritrean tanks and long-range artillery, were seen on the Eritrean side of the border poised for launching an offensive on eastern Sudan.
The offensive is aimed at cutting the Khartoum-Port Sudan highway and capturing the town of Kassala as part of "an international plot sponsored and supervised by Eritrea," the daily quoted its unnamed sources as saying.
The sources told the daily that Eritrea had become hostile toward Sudan because it believed that the Sudanese government had offered Ethiopian troops access to western Eritrea through Sudanese territory during the war.
Eritrea and Ethiopia signed an initial peace accord last month in Algiers, officially halting a two-year-old war that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced more than a million others.
The accusation was published after the Sudanese government said Monday that it was raising the state of readiness in all state bodies and mobilizing to meet the security challenges in the south of the country.
The government accused the SPLA of having used a ceasefire in many parts of the country, which it says the rebels are now violating, to plan new attacks.
The SPLA rebels, recruited from the mainly Christian and animist south, have been fighting Khartoum's successive Arab and Islamic governments since 1983 and were joined in 1995 by northern opposition groups.
They have been mounting attacks from the south and east - KHARTOUM (AFP)
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