Darfur rebel leader says to attack Khartoum again

Darfur rebel leader Khalil Ibrahim said on Monday he would launch more attacks on Sudan's capital Khartoum until the government fell.

Darfur rebel leader says to attack Khartoum again
"This is just the start of a process and the end is the termination of this regime," Ibrahim, whose Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked Khartoum at the weekend, said in a satellite phone call. "Don't expect just one more attack."

Ibrahim said he was speaking from Omdurman, the western Khartoum suburb where the attack occurred -- just across the Nile river from the heart of the capital.

Government officials have said the last rebels fled the area on Sunday evening, and no independent verification of Ibrahim's statement about his whereabouts was immediately available.

The weekend attack was the first time fighting had reached the capital in decades of conflict between the traditionally Arab-dominated central government and rebels from far-flung regions in the oil-producing nation -- Africa's biggest country.

President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's government arrested Islamist opposition leader Hassan al-Turabi and four top members of his party on Monday, aides said. JEM leaders were supporters of Turabi in the past but he denies backing the rebels.

Turabi's son said security forces arrested his father at his home about an hour after returning from a conference of his Popular Congress Party in nearby Sennar state.

"They want to blame the party for what has happened," said Siddig al-Turabi. About 65 people were believed to have been killed in the Khartoum attack.

Power struggle

Turabi was Bashir's ideologue until they split in a bitter power struggle in 1999-2000. Since then he has been in and out of jail but was released along with all other political prisoners after a 2005 north-south peace deal.

No immediate comment was available from the government on Ibrahim's vow of more attacks and Turabi's arrest.

On Sunday, Sudan cut diplomatic relations with neighbouring Chad, saying the attack by the rebels from the western Darfur region had been supported by Chadian President Idriss Deby.

The rebels made a lightning advance across 600 km (400 miles) of desert and scrub to attack Khartoum on Saturday in what one of their leaders called a bid for power.

Chad has denied involvement, but analysts say it may have backed the JEM rebels to retaliate for an attack on the Chadian capital three months ago.

Government officials said the attack on Khartoum ruled JEM out of any peace process.

A curfew remained in force on the outskirts of Omdurman. Military checkpoints were at every major junction.

Heavy tanks lined Omdurman's streets and dozens of vehicles carrying armed men raced along. Security forces were arresting mostly young men who looked to be from Darfur.

But the streets were again full of people.

Chad said it was surprised at Sudan's "hasty decision" to cut off ties and that it hoped they would be re-established.

Deby and Bashir signed a non-aggression pact in March. Each has accused the other of breaking the deal.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Mayıs 2008, 16:09