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NEWS & VIEWS
STATEMENT FROM THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE SUDAN ON DARFUR REBELS ATTACK ON NIGERIAN PILGRIMS

On 21.10.2004, the rebel forces attacked 105 Nigerian pilgrims together with 15 Sudanese nationals, who were on their way to the Holy Lands in Saudi Arabia in the area of Khor Towila in Northern Darfur State and looted their money, luggage, property and took away three vehicles from them after that they packed them all in one vehicle and sent them to El Fashir, the capital of that state.

While the government of Sudan strongly condemns the aggression which was launched without any consideration to the sanctity of the pilgrims who were heading for the holy place in the Holy month of Ramadan. It would like to remind that Sudan has been enjoying for centuries, the annual passage of thousands of pilgrims from West Africa through its lands in a blessed pilgrimage and throughout this period no such aggression has taken place against them. But instead, they were received by their Sudanese brothers in cordial hospitality, and the Holy Pilgrimage for generations became a remarkable point of fraternal love and a cultural and social bridge between the people of West Africa and the Sudanese people.

As this violation is a serious and gross violation of the Cease Fire Agreement, it also indicates lack of a sense of responsibility on the part of the rebels.

The government of the Sudan irrevocably holds the insurgency fully responsible for this heinous crime and request them to immediately return the looted property to their owners and apologize for all the anxiety and inconveniences caused to them and all the pilgrims and Muslims whose sentiments have been hurt by this aggression.

The government also demands the immediate release of the fifteen Sudanese nationals and would hold the rebels responsible if any harm may befall them.

The government also clearly and seriously warns and requests them to desist from repeating such criminal acts.

The government assures protection at all levels to all its citizens and foreigners residing in the Sudan or transiting.

It will also take necessary measures with the Mission of the African Union, which has been informed of this violation to observe such aggressions and bring the rebels to account, and take necessary action to prevent any repetition of the same.

Finally the government of Sudan reiterates its grief at the involvement of the insurgence in this incident and would like to express its sincere regrets to the Nigerian people and other pilgrims who will transit through Sudan for this untoward incident and would like to underline its keenness together with the Sudanese people to ensure their security, safety and assure that they would be welcomed as true brothers on their way to the Holy Lands.



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