Sudan Interior Minister: Darfur largely calm despite sporadic unrest

Concern grows for civilians in region

KHARTOUM - Sudan's Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamed has said that the Darfur region is largely calm, despite tribal and other unrest which according to the UN forced almost 90,000 people to flee this month.
"The minister has affirmed (the) calmness of conditions in all Darfur states except some looting operations carried out by the rebel movements", and attacks on commercial convoys, Hamed said according to remarks published Thursday by the official SUNA news agency.
After rebel attacks and "possible" air strikes reported by peacekeepers in the Muhagiriya area of southern Darfur this month, the UN said about 36,000 people sought protection around bases of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
A rare 10-day rebel occupation of the area ended on Wednesday when the Sudanese army announced it "liberated" Muhagiriya but the insurgents said they withdrew in the face of massive force.
"Today SAF liberated Muhagiriya," Sudan Armed Forces spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said.
The Sudan Liberation Army's Minni Minnawi faction on April 6 began their occupation of Muhagiriya and Labado, two communities strategically located about 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of the South Darfur state capital Nyala, one of Sudan's largest cities.
Darfur's insurgents normally stage hit-and-run attacks.
"Yes, we withdrew from Muhagiriya and Labado," said rebel spokesman Abdullah Moursal.
He said the government had sent two "huge" convoys of troops, one from the west and one from the east, and these were backed by air strikes.
The government regained control of Labado on Tuesday after fierce fighting which resulted in the deaths of four civilians and the wounding of six others, the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission UNAMID said.
Thousands of civilians had sought shelter around peacekeepers' camps in the district since the initial fighting, and the UN has been calling for access to assist them.
Separately, at least 50,000 people fled in early April from southwestern Darfur, the United Nations said, after fighting between Salamat and Misseriya tribes.
At a conference in the Gulf state of Qatar last week Canada said security in Darfur has "worsened."
Although violence continues, UN officials say parts of Darfur are "relatively stable" and offer good opportunities for rebuilding after a decade of war.