A NEW dimension was added to the prevailing chaos in Darfur when a rebel force known as the Justice and Equality Movement journeyed in a motor column of some 200 vehicles for four days across Darfur to attack the Sudanese capital Khartoum and the nearby city of Omdurman. The audacious attack lasted for only a few hours and little damage was done but it delivered a message to the government of Sudan that it is not necessarily safe in its own capital.

Although the rebels were repelled by the Sudanese army after fierce fighting, they sent a warning signal that civil war is a continuing danger in Sudan.

President Bashir of Sudan appeared on TV and said he wa severing relations with neighbouring Chad: “These forces are basically Chadian forces” he said.

The Sudanese-Chadian border is porous and the President may have been right to claim that those who attacked Khartoum received assistance from Chad, although the Chadian government denied any connection with the raid.

The Justice and Equality Movement is only one of a number of rebel forces in Darfur that complicate the task of the inadequately equipped UN/African Union peacekeeping force there. Meanwhile the plight of refugees in Darfur is as great as ever; the five-year death toll is now about 300'000 and last year's peace talks that involved some, but not all, the forces active there have come to nothing.