Sudan rebels heal their rift

John Samuel, 18, who lost his legs when Sudanese government planes bombed his school, practising with artificial limbs in the Red Cross hospital at Lokichokia in Kenya which sees up to 100 refugee casualties of the Sudanese conflict every week.

Meanwhile the four-year split in the rebel movement of southern Sudan has been healed according to Riak Machar, leader of the breakaway Southern Sudan Independence Movement, writes Richard Dowden. Speaking in Nairobi yesterday, Mr Machar said: "The SSIM, in pursuit of reconciliation and peace, announces a ceasefire with the SPLA [the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army, the mainstream movement] with effect from today." The two groups were now agreed on the objective of their 12-year-old struggle, he added.

The war between the tribally based factions of the southern autonomy movement has been as bad if not worse than the war against the Khartoum government in terms of brutality and suffering and has allowed the government troops to regain most of the south in the last two years. The SPLA forces led by John Garang, are now penned in along the Uganda border while Mr Machar's rebels who have few weapons, are based near the Ethiopian border in the east. The government is preparing for a dry season offensive.

Photograph: Corinne Dufka/Reuter

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