Sudanese, Chadian armies clash

The BBC is reporting a clash between the armies of Sudan and Chad in the Darfur region of Sudan. According to BBC, Janjawid militias crossed into Darfur to attack refugees from Darfur who had fled to camps in Chad. The Chadian army, defending the camps, attacked the militias and chased them back across the border. Crossing the border, the Chadian soldiers found themselves fighting Sudanese army troops who were defending the border.

The incident appears to confirm the suspicions of independent observers who say the Sudanese military has done little to disarm the militias and may be providing active support for their movements.

It’s hard to get a clear picture of the current situation in Darfur. Some of this is the result of typical media deployment – Sudan, like most African countries, generally gets very little mainstream media attention. But part of the problem is the Sudanese government’s crackdown on independent journalism in the region. The International Federation of Journalists reports that Khartoum is refusing to issue visas and travel permits to allow journalists to report on Darfur. Journalists already in the country are facing censorship and harrasment – the bureau chief for Al-Jazeera was imprisoned for two weeks for “disseminating false news” – his case is now on appeal.

In a bit of good news, it appears that Andrew Natsios’s press conference did its job – Khartoum has said that the 28-member USAID team will be issued visas, but not until the UN assessment team finishes its work.

Sorry folks – hadn’t meant for the blog to become All Sudan, All the Time, but the situation is changing very quickly, is badly under-reported and is critically important…

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