Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Two killed in Darfur camp after census starts

By Andrew Heavens

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Armed raiders shot dead at least two people in a Darfur displacement camp on Wednesday, residents and aid workers said.

Residents at Kalma camp had staged a protest against Sudan's national census on Tuesday, the day counting started, and said they would refuse to take part because they could not trust government organisers.

The attackers tried to force their way into the camp in south Darfur at 4 a.m. local time (0100 GMT) and then fired into the settlement, camp resident representative Abu Sherati told Reuters.

"The bandits are still just outside the camp and we can still hear shooting. Everyone is very scared," he said, speaking from the camp by phone in mid-morning.

One official from an aid group operating in the area, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was still unclear who the attackers were and whether the raid was linked to the census.

"But tension is certainly high at the moment because of the census so any small incidents are likely to escalate," said the official. Aid groups suspended work in Kalma following the violence.

Kalma, a base for more than 90,000 people forced out of their homes by fighting, has been targeted by pro-Khartoum militias in the past.

Sudan's census has been hailed as a vital step towards Sudan's democratic elections in 23 years, due to be held in 2009 under the terms of a north-south peace deal. It will also be used to help in the distribution of power and wealth. Read more >>>>>>

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