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Three state legislators held by Sudan's eastern rebels: report

5/25/2005 8:37am

KHARTOUM, May 24 (AFP) -- Authorities in eastern Sudan say three state assemblymen have been captured by rebels from the Beja minority, a Beja politician told AFP by telephone from the region's main town Port Sudan Tuesday.
A statement from the Red Sea state government broadcast on local radio said state assemblymen Mahmud Osman, Taj al-Sir Dafaallah and Eisa al-Umdah were seized as they returned from a government-sponsored economic conference in the neighbouring state of Kassala, said Osman Hashim Ohaj.

Ohaj is Red Sea state spokesman for the rebel Beja Congress but he said he was unable to confirm the three men's capture as communications between the group's exiled military wing and above-ground political wing were tenuous.

The Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum promised to open talks with the Beja Congress in January after at least 14 and as many as 36 of its supporters were killed by security forces breaking up a demonstration in Port Sudan.

But so far the talks have yet to materialise and rebel commanders in the strip of territory they control along the Eritrean border have said they are ready to defend themselves against government forces and proxy militia.

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