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China calls 'groundless' UN findings on arms in Darfur
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Oct 21, 2010 - 7:28:30 AM  

China calls 'groundless' UN findings on arms in Darfur

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • U.N. source: A panel found evidence of Chinese arms in Darfur
  • China denies violating an arms embargo in Darfur
  • Violence has been rising in the conflict-torn region
  • The report will go before the Security Council

Beijing, China (CNN) -- China lashed out Thursday against a draft United Nations report that says Chinese ammunition has been used in the bloody Darfur conflict this year.

The final version of the report, compiled by a panel of experts for the U.N. Security Council, has not been approved yet.

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing said accusations were "groundless" that the Communist nation had violated a 2004 arms embargo by supplying arms to the volatile Darfur region.

"China has been implementing the Security Council resolutions on sanctions against Sudan in a comprehensive, earnest and precise manner," said Ma Zhaoxu, the spokesman. "It is inappropriate of the panel to make groundless accusations based on this unconfirmed report."

A United Nations source -- who has seen the draft report but did not want to be identified because the report has not yet been formally submitted to the Security Council -- told CNN that the panel of experts found evidence that Sudanese forces used more than a dozen types of Chinese ammunition against rebels in Darfur over the past two years.

At a Sudan Sanctions Committee meeting Wednesday, the expert panel briefed member nations on recently manufactured shell casings from Chinese ammunition that were collected at a site where U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur have been attacked several times, the source said.

The date of manufacture of the shell casings is crucial. The Security Council imposed an embargo in 2004 that prohibits the transfer of arms by the Khartoum government to Darfur.

Previous panel reports have also pointed to Chinese ammunition in Darfur. Beijing, however, has in the past said Chinese armaments predate the Darfur embargo.

Violence in Darfur has been on a grim uptick this year, and May was the deadliest month in Darfur since a U.N. mission deployed there in 2007.

As many as 300,000 people are believed to have died, and at least 2.5 million have been displaced from their homes in Darfur since fighting broke out between the government, the government-allied Janjaweed militia and other armed rebel groups in 2003, according to the United Nations.

The conflict has been marked by widespread atrocities, including the murders of civilians and the rapes of women and girls.

China accounts for 90 percent of small arms sales to Sudan, which human rights groups have described as the "weapon of choice" for the Janjaweed.

Last week, China abstained from a vote to extend the mandate of the Security Council panel of experts that has been issuing reports on Darfur since the embargo was imposed.

China's representative, Yang Tao, said the panel needs to improve its methods and conduct its work under "the principles of objectivity and accountability."

In a news briefing in Beijing earlier this week, Ma, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said China hopes to see enduring peace in Sudan. "We sincerely wish an early and proper settlement of the Darfur issue," he said.

The Security Council panel's report is expected to be formally sent to the Security Council next week, the U.N. source told CNN.

CNN's Nima Elbagir in Nairobi, Kenya contributed to this report.

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