Sudan says rebels, not army, attacked peacekeepers
( Reuters ) - Sudan on Wednesday denied U.N. accusations that Sudanese government forces attacked a U.N.-African Union supply convoy in Sudan's Darfur region this week, pointing the finger at Chadian-backed rebels instead.
A spokeswoman for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had said on Tuesday that "elements of the Sudanese armed forces" had attacked the convoy from the joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID.
"They were not the government," Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem told reporters before a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on the situation in Darfur.
"The rebels did that. No doubt about it," he said, referring to an attack in the war-ravaged area of West Darfur late on Monday.
"It happened in an area infested with rebel activities. The Justice and Equality (Movement) elements in West Darfur did that with the massive support ... they enjoy from the Chadian government," the ambassador said.
The Justice and Equality Movement, or JEM, is a Sudanese rebel group. Abdalhaleem said the rebels were trying to put the Sudanese government under pressure and that Khartoum would have no interest in attacking a U.N.-AU convoy.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guehenno told the Security Council that a local commander of the Sudanese armed forces had contacted UNAMID and taken responsibility for the attack, but Abdalhaleem said this was incorrect.
JEM commander Abdel Aziz el-Nur Ashr dismissed the ambassador's accusation and said the attack was in territory controlled by Sudanese government forces.
The Sudanese ambassador said Khartoum was open to a joint investigation of the incident and criticized Ban for condemning Sudan before an investigation had been completed.