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Cablegate: Janjaweed Fighting Continues Inside El Fasher

VZCZCXRO1945
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHGI RUEHKUK RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #0644 1161141
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251141Z APR 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0662
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000644

SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - REMOVED 'TRIPOLI MINIMIZED CONSIDERED'

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF/SPG, S/CRS, DS/IP/AF, DS/DSS/CC
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KPKO SOCI AU SU ASEC
SUBJECT: JANJAWEED FIGHTING CONTINUES INSIDE EL FASHER

REF: A) KHARTOUM 557

B) KHARTOUM 538

1. (SBU) In yet another example of the clashes between Government of
Sudan (GoS) military forces and unruly janjaweed elements that have
been plaguing El Fasher for almost one month, on April 21 at
approximately 2300 a truck of GoS Special Forces officers was
stopped at a checkpoint in east El Fasher by Central Reserve Police
(otherwise known as Border Intelligence Forces or janjaweed). The
Special Forces officers were reportedly attempting to re-fuel, to
which the Central Reserve Police objected given the lateness of the
hour.

2. (SBU) According to UN and outside sources, the Central Reserve
Police then initiated shooting, which lasted approximately one hour
and by all accounts was heavy, given the type of weapons used
(reports say machine gun fire). By the time the fighting subsided,
one from each side was killed, including one Special Forces
intelligence officer, who died on the spot. A Lieutenant Colonel in
the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) confirmed the
death of this officer, as did UNAMID sources. The identity of the
other person killed remains unknown.

3. (SBU) There were reportedly up to 23 injured, who were taken to
the El Fasher military hospital. Some of these injuries were
considered critical and were referred to the civilian hospital for
advanced care, reportedly leading to the premature discharge of
patients already being treated there to free up bed space for the
wounded soldiers.

4. (SBU) The Central Reserve Police involved in the incident were
withdrawn to their camp in east El Fasher, near the Shala Prison, in
an attempt to defuse tensions between the sides. This "evacuation"
did not create the calm envisioned, as during the afternoon of April
22, GoS National Security attacked the Police in their camp. UN
sources consider this action to be in retaliation for the clash the
night before. The retaliation continued on April 23 at 0900, when
shooting resumed between the National Security and Central Reserve
Police forces near UN warehouse facilities. National Security
maintained a heavy presence in that area until approximately 1300,
resulting in restricted staff movement until its posture relaxed.
No casualties were reported from that incident.

5. (SBU) Comment: There remains a fair amount of speculation among
El Fasher residents as to the reason behind this continuation of
GoS-janjaweed element fighting. The most likely indicates it was
another manifestation of festering janjaweed frustration due to the
GoS' non-payment of their salaries. As this issue remains
unresolved (and exacerbated by the payment of some forces but notR2JQrces may
very well be getting somewhere with their tactics, however. The
Special Forces whom it engaged had been dispatched from Khartoum to
serve as protection at the El Fasher branch of the Bank of Khartoum,
in the event that the disgruntled Police tried to storm the facility
to take their payment by force. Since the April 21 incident, the
Special Forces have withdrawn from their posts; on April 24 FieldOff
observed no significant armed presence in front of the Bank, where
one had previously been stationed. The GoS' tight-lipped response
to the encounter, which the NISS LTC dismissed as "friendly fire"
and which another GoS representative claimed was instigated by
"unknown assailants," indicates that it is trying to save face
against a threat that it may have considerably underestimated.
Given GoS liquidity problems, it's not surprising that there are
some problems paying salaries, but one would think that payment of
modest salaries to front line foot soldiers in Darfur would be a top
priority, especially in the absence of adequate "regular" forces.
We expect that the GoS will move to solve this situation quickly,
before it loses even more support from fractious and unhappy Arab
tribal elements in Darfur - the last popular support it retains,
albeit tenuously - in Darfur.

FERNANDEZ

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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