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17 killed in clashes near Khartoum

5/18/2005 10:38pm

KHARTOUM, May 18 (AFP) -- At least 17 people were killed in clashes between refugees and police in a squatter area some 10 kilometres (six miles) east of the Sudanese capital, police said.
Major General Tareq Osman of Khartoum police told reporters 14 policemen, including an officer, and three civilians died "in an exchange of fire when the IDPs (internally displaced persons) resisted relocation to another camp".

The violence broke out as authorities tried to move the refugees, numbering some 23,000, mostly from southern Sudan, to a camp south of Khartoum, said the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The demonstrators torched the local police station after seizing weapons with which they traded fire with the policemen, according to witnesses.

They said the police used firearms and tear-gas, while the refugees fought with spears as well as guns seized from police. Six police vehicles were torched, apart from the station, they said.

An OCHA official in the Sudanese capital, Kirsten Zaat, criticised what she called the government's heavy-handed policy of forced relocation and demolishing temporary homes.

"The UN laments this tragic and unnecessary loss of life and reminds the government of Sudan to meet its international legal obligations to guarantee the security and safety of all Sudanese civilians, including IDPs," she said.

Yassin Arman, spokesman for southern Sudan's main former rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), demanded an immediate investigation into the violence.

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