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UN choppers under fire in Abyei


Four United Nations helicopters were shot at by northern Sudanese gunmen in the disputed town of Abyei late Tuesday. Here a U.N. helicopter lands in Abyei in January, 2011.


Trevor Snapp

Four United Nations helicopters taking off from a fortified base in Abyei were shot at Tuesday by northern gunmen as President Omar al-Bashir struck a defiant tone against international condemnation of his army’s occupation of the town at the weekend.

A U.N. spokeswoman said that 14 shots were fired at the helicopters, but none hit the helicopters and no one was injured.

The contempt for international opinion that this attack on the U.N. shows was echoed by President Bashir who is defying calls to withdraw from the disputed town and territory.

“Abyei is northern Sudanese land,” he declared in a speech in Khartoum. He added that his troops would respond to any “provocation” from the south.

Bashir also poured scorn on U.S. warnings that his invasion and occupation of Abyei could keep Sudan on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and jeopardize debt relief negotiations and the lifting of sanctions.

“Sudan is not greedy for the carrot of America, and does not fear from its stick,” Bashir said.

Further evidence of the destruction wrought by the north’s assault on Abyei was revealed by the Satellite Sentinel Project, founded by Hollywood actor George Clooney and Sudan activist John Prendergast.

“This latest attack by the Khartoum regime demonstrates that the lack of consequences for such offensive actions will ensure that they continue,” warned Prendergast.