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Sudanese Army Denies Burning Village

08 October 2007

The Sudanese army is denying that its forces burned down a town last week in the troubled Darfur region.

Sudanese newspapers Monday, quote army officials as dismissing any suggestion the army was involved in the destruction of Haskanita.

On Sunday, the U.N. mission in Sudan reported that the town had been burned to the ground. The U.N. did not assign blame but said the town is now under control of Sudanese government forces.

A Darfur rebel leader, Suleiman Jamous, has accused the government and associated militia of killing 100 people in the town. The U.N. made no mention of casualties in its report.

Haskanita was burned about a week after gunmen assaulted a nearby African Union peacekeeping base, killing 10 soldiers. A.U. and Sudanese officials blame Darfur rebel fighters for that attack. No group has claimed responsibility.

On Sunday, Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol acknowledged that Darfur is engulfed in violence, but said he does not agree with President Bush, who described the situation there as genocide.

Last month in his address at the United Nations, President Bush said the people who are being "mercilessly killed by roaming bands" know that the situation in Darfur is genocide.

Since 2003, an estimated 200,000 people have been killed, more than two million others displaced, and hundreds of villages have been destroyed in fighting in Darfur among government forces, militias and rebels.

A U.N. peacekeeping force is scheduled to take over from a much smaller contingent of African Union soldiers early next year.

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