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EU Concerned Over Sudan's 'Take No Prisoners' Policy

4/3/2012 6:57 PM ET

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Tuesday voiced concerns over recent remarks made by Sudanese officials about "take no prisoners" policy in the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan state, warning that such a policy is against international laws on war.

"I am alarmed at video footage showing Ahmed Haroun, the Governor of Southern Kordofan, urging Sudanese soldiers to take no prisoners during fighting in Southern Kordofan and a Government of Sudan spokesman defending these statements," Ashton said in a statement.

She warned that a deliberate policy of taking no prisoners during armed conflict constitutes a war crime, and noted that the Geneva Conventions "prohibit ordering that there shall be no survivors" in a conflict. She also urged the Sudanese government to ensure that it security forces "abide by international humanitarian law at all times."

"The European Union is committed to fight against impunity for international crimes and will spare no efforts to ensure that anyone responsible for such crimes is brought to justice," the EU foreign policy chief added.

South Kordofan state is the North's only oil-producing state. It is home to many pro-South communities, many of whom had earlier fought along side the former southern rebel group-- the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)-- against Khartoum during the devastating 1983-2005 civil war between the North and South.

The fighting began in South Kordofan in June last year after the Sudanese government attempted to disarm the ethnic Nuban fighters of the SPLM (N), which was previously aligned to SPLA. According to U.N. estimates, some 140,000 people have fled the region since fighting broke out.

An earlier report released by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had accused Sudanese troops and rebel fighters of committing serious rights violations and war crimes in the region. The Sudanese government has, however, denied accusations of ethnic cleansing in the state.

The fighting in South Kordofan began just over a month before South Sudan split from the north and becoming independent on July 9. South Sudan had earlier voted overwhelmingly in favor of separation from the North in the January referendum, in line with a 2005 peace agreement that ended 22 years of civil war between the Arab North and the Christian and animist South.

Despite the many unresolved issues linked to citizenship and splitting up of natural resources with the North, South Sudan became the world's newest independent nation on July 9. The border region between the two countries still witnesses frequent clashes between several former southern rebel groups and forces loyal to the North Sudanese government in Khartoum.

Currently, the armies of Sudan and South Sudan are engaged in fierce fighting along the disputed border, marking it the biggest confrontation between the two sides after South Sudan seceded from Sudan last July. Talks are progressing in Ethiopia under the mediation of the African Union for resolving the issue amidst fears that the ongoing border clashes might escalate into a full fledged war.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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