Sudan Declares Border Area with Chad a Military Operations Zone, 04/14/03

Sudan declares border area with Chad a military operations zone

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Apr 14, 2003 (AP) -- Sudan has declared a military zone in a western province bordering Chad where a tribal rebellion is under way, government officials said Monday.

The declaration came two days after Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir met his Chadian counterpart Idriss Deby in Darfur province for talks on the rebellion, which is undermining stability on the Sudan-Chad border.

"President Deby and President Bashir underlined in their meeting the necessity of cooperation between the armies in Chad and Sudan to eliminate all armed bandits and armed groups in the border areas," the Darfur security chief, Gen. Adam Mussa, was quoted as saying by the independent Sudanese newspaper Akhbar al-Youm on Monday.

Early this year, a previously unknown group, the "Darfur Liberation Front," started attacking police stations and other government offices in Darfur. The group's members stem mainly from the Zagawa tribe, which lives on both sides of the border. The summit was held as Chad feared the insurgency could spread to its territory.

Tribal conflicts over grazing and farm lands have been common in parts of Sudan suffering from drought and desertification. But the Khartoum government has been facing a civil war for the past 20 years in southern and eastern Sudan, and cannot afford another rebellion.

Darfur province is home to a fifth of Sudan's 30 million people and is one of the least developed areas. It is particularly vulnerable to droughts and famine.

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