The Sudanese government said Sunday it has asked non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to suspend humanitarian operations in Sudan's eastern Kassala state until the army drives rebels out.
"This precautionary measure was demanded for the safety of the relief workers in east Sudan," Minister of State for Social Planning Chuol Deng told AFP by telephone.
He added that the NGOs could "resume operations as soon as the state is free of the rebel pockets."
This measure came in the wake of an attack last week on Kassala town, the capital of the state of the same name, in which 52 civilians and soldiers as well as an unspecified number of rebels were said to have been killed.
Kassala State Governor Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid, meanwhile, said his government and the authorities in Khartoum were reviewing a security plan to prevent a similar rebel offensive from recurring.
"What has happened will not occur again," Hamid was quoted by Al Rai Al Aam daily as pledging.
"Intensive security measures have been taken in cooperation with the central government authorities for the maintenance of security and stability in the state," he added.
The governor has declined to blame anybody for the offensive which officials said was launched from border areas, where a rebel vanguard sneaked into the town first to help a large force.
The security authorities are still conducting an investigation with everyone suspected of involvement in the attack, Hamid said.
He has vowed to wipe out "the rebel pockets" and remove "all security hazards" in the state.
In Geneva last Friday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said it was pulling its staff out of the embattled town of Kassala.
The opposition umbrella group, the National Democratic Alliance, which includes northern groups as well as the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army, said Wednesday that its forces had gained control of the town.
But the government said its forces had driven the rebels back – KHARTOUM (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )