Rebels Capture Sudanese Air Force Chief, 04/28/03

Rebels capture Sudanese air force chief during clahes in country's west, army says

KHARTOUM, Sudan, Apr 28, 2003 (AP) -- Rebels have abducted a Sudanese air force major general in the restive western province of Darfur, a military spokesman said Monday.

Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Bushra was captured by rebel forces Friday during clashes with rebels in the town of Al-Fasher, some 1,400 kilometers (686 miles) west of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Lt. Gen. Mohamed Basher Soliman, spokesman for the Sudanese army, said rebels killed Bushra's guards before abducting the air force official. No details were available on his current whereabouts.

Friday's clashes between soldiers and rebel forces at an airport in the restive western region of Darfur killed 32 soldiers, including two officers, and 20 rebels.

"Those attacks were desperate and suicidal attempts that seek to impede the peace march, but they will fail and be aborted," Soliman told Sudan's official news agency.

On Friday, Soliman said government forces had clashed with the rebel Sudanese Movement for Justice and Equality, a group said to be fighting for a greater share of wealth and power in Darfur state, one of Sudan's driest regions. The area has witnessed tribal clashes for years.

Unlike the Christian and animist Sudan's People Liberation Army in the south, the Movement of Justice and Equality is Muslim and "isn't secessionist," the chief, Khalil Ibrahim, told the pan-Arab, London-based daily Al-Hayat, in an interview last month. "We only want a role in power and a share in resources."

Meanwhile, human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for Darfur to be included in the human rights monitoring set up under the Sudan peace process aimed at ending the country's long running civil war in the south.

Amnesty said in a statement that an independent international commission of inquiry should also be formed.

"At a time when peace talks are taking place to end a 20-year conflict which has caused two million deaths and 4.5 million displaced persons, the international community must not watch in silence while the choice of a military solution for human rights problems drags another area of Sudan into disaster," Amnesty said in its statement.

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