Churches in Sudan come under attack

by
02 May 2012

by Madeleine Davies

A MOB of 300 people attacked a church compound in Sudan on Saturday of last week, prompting fears that the political rhetoric accompanying clashes along the border with South Sudan had inflamed religious tensions.

Witnesses told IRIN, a news ser­vice of the UN Office for the Co­ordina­tion of Humanitarian Affairs, that the mob attacked a Presbyterian church compound in al-Jiraif dis­trict, in Khartoum, setting light to parts of the premises. The com­pound in­cludes a home for the eld­erly, a medical clinic, Bible school, and accommodation for priests. On Sun­day, Muslims joined Christians who gathered on the premises to encourage one another.

The attack has been condemned officially by Muslim religious lead­ers and the government of Sudan, which has promised an open investi­gation into the incident by the Min­istry of Religious Guidance.

Two independent churches in the district were also attacked on Satur­day, the leader of the Sudan Presby­terian Evangelical Church, the Revd James Par Tap, said.

The Sudan Tribune reports that, on Monday, Sudanese security forces shut down the offices of Sudan Aid and the Sudan Council of Churches in Nyala, Darfur. The Roman Catholic clinic that serves those living in camps surrounding the city was also closed.

Although South Sudan has now withdrawn from the contested Heglig oilfield (News, 20 April), tensions between the two countries remain high. South Sudan accuses Sudan of bombing oil-producing regions along its border, while Sudan says that its soldiers, released from prison by South Sudan, have been beaten. Both sides claim that the other is supporting rebels in its country. On Sunday, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan declared a state of emergency in the Sinnar, White Nile, and South Kordofan states.

The international community is increasing pressure on the two countries to return to the negotiat­ing table to resolve continuing dis­putes about oil and the demarcation of the border. On Tuesday of last week, the African Union warned that it would issue binding rulings unless Sudan and South Sudan resumed talks within two weeks. The UN Security Council is currently drafting a resolution to support this.

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