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Tuesday, 26 March, 2002, 15:19 GMT
Sudan oil attacks 'to continue'
Sudanese dignitaries celebrate opening of the first oil pipeline in 1999.
Oil has helped Khartoum fund its war effort
Sudanese rebels have said they will continue to attack oil installations in the country, despite an agreement brokered by the US to protect civilians and civilian targets.

The leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/SPLA) John Garang said the attacks were within the terms of the agreement signed earlier this month.

Sudan People's Liberation Movement and Army (SPLM/SPLA) leader John Garang
Garang: 'We will shut down these oil installations, because they are a weapon of war'
A US official confirmed to the Reuters news agency that civilians killed in attacks directed at oil installations could be considered "collateral damage", according to the usual rules of war.

But the Sudanese Government said it believed the oil installations, operated by Canada's Talisman Energy and Sweden's Lundin Petroleum, should now be immune from attack.

The agreement was part of a wider peace initiative which also covered a cease-fire in the Nuba mountains, a halt to aerial bombardment and the creation of 'zones of tranquillity' to allow the delivery of aid.

Installations targeted

Oil exports, which began in 1999, added a new dimension to the civil war launched by the SPLA in 1983 to press southern demands for greater autonomy.

Khartoum has used the oil revenues to sustain its war effort.

"We will shut down these oil installations, because they are a weapon of war ... This is blood oil. It is being used against our people," Mr Garang said.

More than 2 million people, mostly from southern Sudan, have died either directly from fighting, or indirectly from hunger and disease made worse by the conflict.

Lawsuit

Meanwhile, Talisman Energy has said it does not know the origin of a memo which purportedly shows the oil producer asked Sudan's army to remove villages near its oil facilities in 1999.

The company said it cannot authenticate the one-page memo.

"There's no letterhead, the signature is just a scrawl so there's no attribution," said Talisman spokesman David Mann.

Human rights groups filed the document as evidence in a US federal court in a lawsuit alleging Talisman conspired with Khartoum to move non-Muslim civilians living near Sudan's oil production regions.

Calgary-based Talisman, one of Canada's biggest oil companies, has a 25% stake in Sudan's only major oil producing project.

See also:

11 Mar 02 | Africa
Sudan takes step towards peace
09 Jan 02 | Africa
Kenyan opposition slams oil deal
07 Mar 02 | Country profiles
Country profile: Sudan
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