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Sudan masses defiant over Darfur
August 4, 2004
Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Sudanese capital Khartoum in protest against any foreign intervention in war-ravaged Darfur.
The government-backed protesters said they were ready to die in a jihad if any foreign troops entered the country.

"Darfur will be a foreign graveyard," said one placard spotted by BBC correspondent Paul Wood.

The African Union says it has boosted the armed force it plans to send to Darfur from 300 to 2,000 troops.


The United Nations has demanded Sudan take action over what has been called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

In a Security Council resolution, it gave the Sudanese government 30 days to disarm the Arab militias, called Janjaweed, that have driven hundreds of thousands of black Africans from their villages in the west of the country.

The UN says refugees have been intimidated

Our correspondent in Khartoum says the Sudanese government will be emboldened by the popular support on show at Wednesday's street rally, to reject the demands unless rebels from the Darfur region are disarmed as well.

He says several ministers of state and senior politicians took part in the government-organised march to the United Nations building in Khartoum.

A group of youths was also seen wearing black shirts and red headbands marked "martyrs brigades".

Broader mission?

Meanwhile, an African Union (AU) spokesman said the organisation was prepared to strengthen the size of the force it plans to deploy to Darfur.

"The AU plans to increase troop strength of its protection force for Darfur from 300 to 2,000, with Nigeria and Rwanda offering to send 1,000 troops each," Adam Thiam told the Reuters news agency.

He said the force's mission could also be broadened from protecting ceasefire observers to a wider peacekeeping role, if given official AU approval.


UN aid workers said on Tuesday that government officials were continuing to intimidate displaced people to try to force them to return to their villages from camps within Darfur.

An independent aid agency, Save The Children (STC) USA, has reported a string of attacks in the al-Junaynah area of western Darfur, where there is a heavy Sudanese police presence.

Displaced people have been shot at or physically attacked, even raped, while a clearly marked STC vehicle came under fire in the town's market place on Monday night.

No one was hurt in the shooting but the ceasefire between government forces and rebels in the area appears more and more untenable, the BBC's Jihan Alayly reports from al-Junaynah.

The United Nations says up to 50,000 people have died since the conflict erupted last year.

More than a million people are thought to have been displaced, around 200,000 of whom have crossed into refugee camps in neighbouring Chad.

Source: BBC NEWS

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