- The Washington Times - Friday, May 24, 2002

A leading aid group said yesterday that Sudan had bombed a village in the nation's war-torn south, killing 11 persons and injuring 40.
If confirmed, the attack would mark a setback for Bush administration efforts to broker an end to Sudan's civil war between the Islamic government in Khartoum and rebels fighting for autonomy in the mainly Christian and animist south.
There was no independent comment from Sudan's National Islamic Front (NIF) government in Khartoum.
The Organization of International Christian Concern said in a press release that at least 11 persons were killed and 40 injured on Wednesday when a Sudanese military plane bombed the village of Rier in the Western Upper Nile region of the country.
The organization said the Sudanese government has repeatedly violated confidence-building measures that were presented by former Sen. John Danforth, the U.S. special envoy to the region.
Mr. Danforth had recently negotiated a cease-fire and other measures to permit humanitarian aid, immunization programs for children and an end to slave trading.
The war, which started in 1983, began as a fight between the Islamic government and rebels in the south. It has evolved into a nationwide conflict fueled by religion, ethnicity, oil and ideology.
The United States has credited Sudan's government for taking measures to protect civilians.
At least 1 million people have been killed in the fighting.
A U.S.-led international team of experts said in a report Wednesday that slavery continues to exist in Sudan and has been used by the government as a tool in fighting the country's civil war.
No accurate figures exist on the number of Sudanese slaves, with the highest estimates ranging up to more than 100,000. A comprehensive study on the problem is needed, the report said.
"The pattern of slave taking that has developed since the start of the civil war is, to a substantial degree, the product of a counterinsurgency strategy pursued by successive governments in Khartoum," said the 68-page report.
The strategy involves arming militias from northern Sudan, who attack rebel-controlled villages, loot cattle and abduct and enslave southern Sudanese, the report said.

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