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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 November 2007, 17:07 GMT
Darfur rebels spurn Chinese force
Chinese army engineers leave for Darfur, 23 November 2007
The soldiers are preparing for a larger peacekeeping force
Rebels in Darfur have demanded that peacekeepers from China pull out of the Sudanese region just hours after the arrival of 135 Chinese engineers.

The army engineers arrived on Saturday to prepare for a joint UN and African Union peacekeeping force of 26,000.

The key Justice and Equality Movement (Jem) rebel group accuses China of being complicit in the Darfur conflict.

Last month the group attacked a Chinese-controlled oilfield, kidnapping several workers.

The Jem says it wants China to withdraw its support for the Sudanese government.

They say that oil sold to the Chinese is being used to fund government operations in Darfur.

Rebels would not allow the Chinese into areas controlled by their forces, Jem leader Khalil Ibrahim told the news agency Reuters following the arrival of the engineers.

'Oil for blood'

"We oppose them coming because China is not interested in human rights. It is just interested in Sudan's resources," he said.

"We are calling on them to quit Sudan, especially the petroleum areas."

Mr Ibrahim did not say whether he would target the Chinese engineers.

"I am not saying I will attack them. I will not say I will not attack them," he said.

"What I am saying is that they are taking our oil for blood."

The Chinese engineers are tasked with building roads and bridges and dig wells ahead of the deployment of the joint peacekeeping force planned for January.

The rebels have said they would not object to peacekeepers from any country other than China.

But on Friday, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir said his country would only accept non-African troops from Pakistan or China.

A month ago the Jem attacked Sudan's Defra oilfield in the Kordofan region, run by a Chinese-controlled consortium, the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company.

Jem said at the time that the Chinese company had one week to leave Sudan.

An estimated 200,000 people have died during four-and-a-half years of fighting in Darfur, with a further two million people displaced.

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