Khartoum Denies Role In Abyei Incident

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WASHINGTON, Aug. 10 (UPI) — The Sudanese government denied allegations it delayed air clearance for peacekeepers wounded by a land mine in the troubled Abyei region.

Four U.N. peacekeepers died last week after their vehicle struck a mine near the Abyei region.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed Khartoum for the incident.

“We are alarmed by reports that the government of Sudan delayed granting the necessary flight clearances to allow the expeditious medical evacuation of the injured peacekeepers and threatened to shoot down any U.N. helicopter that attempted to access the area without approval,” Clinton said in an Aug. 5 statement.

The Sudanese government in a statement released through its embassy in Washington said the U.S. State Department was making misleading statements.

“It can only be viewed in the context of the ongoing anti-Sudan campaign within certain circles,” the statement read. “Permission for the aircraft in question was granted promptly.”

Khartoum says the United Nations was briefed on the incident and is aware that air clearance was given. The attack on peacekeepers, the government claims, was carried out by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, the military branch of South Sudan’s government.

South Sudan became an independent state July 9 as part of a 2005 peace deal that ended one of the bloodiest civil wars in modern history. Abyei lies at the heart of border issues threatening to unravel the peace deal.

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