Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sudanese Troops Bar U.N. Official From Camp

KASSAB, Sudan -- Sudanese troops barred the U.N. humanitarian chief Saturday from a refugee camp whose residents have been raped and attacked by gunmen suspected of belonging to pro-government militias.

The convoy carrying John Holmes was halted at a checkpoint about a mile outside the Kassab refugee camp, and he was told he lacked the proper papers for a visit there.

"I'm frustrated, annoyed, but it's not atypical of what happens here," Holmes told journalists traveling with him. He said he had obtained all the necessary clearances from the government in Khartoum.

The Sudanese army spokesman, Sawarmy Khaled Taat, initially said he believed that there had been a mix-up and that the United Nations had not obtained the proper permission for Holmes's visit.

Later Saturday, Sudanese authorities apologized, saying the incident was an individual mistake by Sudanese military intelligence personnel manning the Kassab checkpoint.


· KINSHASA, Congo -- A day after the army restored calm to Congo's capital, Kinshasa, U.N.-supported Radio Okapi reported that at least 27 people had been killed and more than 100 injured in two days of gun battles between government troops and supporters of former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba.

· MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Belarus said a missile caused a plane crash in Mogadishu that killed 11 of its citizens, while the Somali government said the incident looked more like an accident than an attack by ever-bolder insurgents.

"The plane was shot down," Belarusan Transport Ministry spokeswoman Kseniya Perestoronina said in Minsk, adding that the plane, in Somalia to assist African peacekeepers, was hit at a height of 500 feet.

If confirmed, it would be the most spectacular strike yet by rebels fighting the Somali government, their Ethiopian allies and the African Union force since the start of 2007.

Somali Interior Minister Mohamed Mahamud Guled insisted the incident had the hallmarks of a technical fault, though investigations were underway.

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