Aid agency says Sudan air force bombed civilian targets

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The Independent Online

A Sudanese air force plane dropped 15 bombs Tuesday near a relief agency compound and other civilian targets in southeastern Sudan, destroying five buildings, an aid official said.

A Sudanese air force plane dropped 15 bombs Tuesday near a relief agency compound and other civilian targets in southeastern Sudan, destroying five buildings, an aid official said.

No casualties were reported in the morning raid, but several head of cattle were killed, said Kristen Flogstad of the Norwegian Church Aid.

ÒWe were very lucky because it rained heavily yesterday and the ground was very soggy,Ó Flogstand said by telephone in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. ÒOtherwise the damage would have been more severe.Ó

Flogstad is the current chairman of a steering committee of private and U.N. relief agencies operating in southern Sudan from the northwestern Kenyan town of Lokichogio.

Flogstand said the bombs fell near African Inland Church and Roman Catholic Church buildings, the NCA compound and a teacherÿs training college in the town of Ikotos.

Ikotos is located in territory controlled by the rebel Sudan Peopleÿs Liberation Army and is 180 kilometers (111 miles) southeast of Juba, the largest southern Sudanese town controlled by President Hassan el-Bashirÿs government.

The bombing comes barely a week after the government assured U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Òall measures are being taken to ensure safetyÓ of U.N. flights.

The flights had been suspended for a week after aid agencies accused Khartoum of bombing their compounds and, in at least one instance, when relief planes parked were on the ground.

The Sudanese government has accused relief organizations of providing military assistance to the SPLA. Since 1983, the SPLA has led a rebellion for autonomy in the largely Christian and animist south from the predominantly Muslim north.

U.N. special envoy Tom Eric Vraaksen and Sudanese officials began talks Sunday in Khartoum on questions surrounding relief operations in southern Sudan.

Khartoum wants all relief flights to southern Sudan to originate from within the country. Most relief flights to rebel-controlled areas originate from Lokichogio.

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