Sudan accuses Chad of bombing Darfur
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan has accused Chadian aircraft of bombing its western Darfur region in what it called "repeated aggressions" by its western neighbor.
Relations between the two African oil producers have been touchy in recent years as both try to quell insurgencies close to their long and porous border. They accuse each other of backing rebels trying to overthrow their respective governments.
"In an unprecedented escalation, Chadian forces have violated the joint border as three Chadian war planes bombed two areas...in West Darfur ... on December 28," said a Sudanese foreign ministry statement seen by Reuters on Sunday.
Darfur rebels have bases in N'Djamena and a Reuters witness has seen Chadian rebel camps along the Sudan-Chad border.
Chadian army deserters have told Reuters that they supported Darfur rebels in 2003, when mostly non-Arab insurgents took up arms accusing Khartoum of neglecting the remote region.
Sudan has rejected Chad's accusations that it was helping Chadian rebels, and accused the Chadian government of supporting the Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in a recent meeting on Chadian territory in the area of Bahai.
A European force is due to deploy to eastern Chad to support a large U.N.-AU peacekeeping force in neighboring Darfur and stem the violence there, which has crossed the border.
International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in Darfur's rebellion.
In eastern Chad militia attacks on villages continue and thousands of desperate Chadians have sought refuge in Darfur. The violence has also spread to the neighboring Central African Republic.
(Reporting by Opheera McDoom, editing by Tim Pearce)