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Press Release — May 22, 2002

Sudan Government Kills 11 in Air Raid

Government Violates Agreement to Protect Citizens

(Washington, DC – May 22, 2002) Sources in Southern Sudan report that at least 11 people were killed and more than 40 others seriously injured in an early morning air raid today that was carried out by the Government of Sudan’s (GOS) National Islamic Front (NIF).

Russian-made Antonov bombers dropped a total of sixteen shrapnel bombs on the Western Upper Nile village of Rier in Mankien county. Eyewitnesses report that the carnage was horrendous, with body parts littering the ground as molten pieces of steel ripped through the bodies of the helpless victims.

The area targeted by the GOS bombers served as a relief center for the many thousands of displaced people of the region. The militant Islamic regime in Khartoum had agreed to protect the civilian population of the Upper Nile region as part of a mutual agreement signed in March between the GOS and the southern rebel forces of the SPLM/SPLA.

This latest attack serves as another setback for the Bush administration, which has been attempting to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the 19-year-old bloody conflict that has taken the lives of nearly two million people, mostly Christians and others of indigenous religions. So far, the GOS has repeatedly violated confidence-building measures that were presented by US Special Envoy, Senator John Danforth, which included a humanitarian ceasefire to allow for immunization programs for children and an end to slave trading. Today’s attack further violates an agreement brokered by the U.S. that was to effectuate a ceasefire between May 19-25. The ceasefire was to allow time for a US humanitarian delegation, led by President Bush’s Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sudan Andrew Natsios, to travel to the areas of the Western Upper Nile, the Nuba Mountains, and Bahr el Ghazal to assess the humanitarian needs. Mr. Natsios is scheduled to be traveling to these areas on May 23.

Recent attacks in which the GOS have violated ceasefire agreements include: February 19, 2002 on the village of Miri; February 20 on the World Food Program distribution center at Bieh, killing 24 civilians; April 20 when GOS Muslim forces raided Marialbai in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, abducting 300 people.