* Group says sources include government, U.N. officials
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, March 10 (Reuters) – Ugandan rebels notorious for mutilating their victims and abducting children have found a safe haven in Sudan’s western Darfur region, an anti-genocide group said in a report that Khartoum dismissed as a lie.
A contingent of the feared Lord’s Resistance Army “has taken refuge in areas of south Darfur, Sudan, controlled by the government of Sudan,” the Washington-based Enough Project said in the report, an advance copy of which was provided to Reuters on Wednesday.
“The possibility of rekindled collaboration between LRA leader Joseph Kony and Sudanese President Omar (Hassan) al-Bashir … should alarm policymakers and demands urgent international investigation and response,” it said.
Both Bashir and Kony are wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“The Khartoum regime’s principal tool of war during its 21-year reign has been support for marauding militias such as the Janjaweed, the Murahaleen, and the Lord’s Resistance Army,” said John Prendergast a former U.S. State Department official who co-founded the Enough Project.
“Facing no consequences for this destructive method of governing, it is unsurprising that the regime is again providing safe haven for the LRA.”
Sudan’s U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem angrily dismissed the report as a baseless fabrication.
“The self-proclaimed expert on Sudan, Prendergast, and the so-called Enough Project are desperately running against time to spread their last allegations before the confident peace train reaches its destination,” he told Reuters.
“It is shameful that a project that pretends to be a think-tank is using fictional tales only to demonstrate their bankruptcy. Enough Project will only be remembered as an agent of destruction, bias and lies whenever Darfur is mentioned.”
MONTHS OF RESEARCH
The Enough Project’s report said its information is based on “months of field research and interviews with government and United Nations officials in several countries.”
It was not possible to independently confirm the report.
Diplomats from the U.N. Security Council would neither confirm nor deny the allegations and U.N. peacekeeping officials said they were not in a position to comment. Uganda’s U.N. mission had no immediate response.
Khartoum has been suspected of supporting the LRA in the past, but it is not clear how the Sudanese government, which is making some attempts toward peace with rebel groups, could benefit from helping the LRA in Darfur.
Many LRA training camps have been broken up and some rebels disarmed by U.N.-backed Congolese soldiers, but the guerrillas still attack civilians in Congo, Central African Republic and border regions in semi-autonomous south Sudan.
In October, LRA rebels attacked a refugee camp in south Sudan and killed five people, raising fears that the group was moving closer to Darfur.
The United Nations estimates that about 2.7 million people in Darfur have been driven from their homes since 2003, when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the state after accusing Khartoum of neglecting Darfur.
The United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have been killed, but Khartoum puts the number at 10,000. (The Enough Project’s full report will be available on Thursday at http://www.enoughproject.org) (Editing by Chris Wilson)
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