Sudan rebels claim oil field attack

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 17 -- Rebels in Sudan said they have attacked the Defra oil field in south Kordofan, halting production estimated at 50,000 b/d, while fending off attacks by forces of the central government.

Darfur rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in west Sudan said the group seized 32 vehicles and captured numerous prisoners in a fight with Khartoum's troops in the Sirba region.

A JEM spokesman said two rebels were killed and six wounded in several hours of fighting northeast of the West Darfur capital of Geneina on Dec. 14-15 after government forces attacked civilians and burned their villages.

JEM also claimed it repulsed a government attack in the Sarf Omra area of west Darfur and inflicted heavy losses on the Sudanese military.

If confirmed, the refinery closure would be the third assault since October by JEM rebels against petroleum installations in Kordofan after the group vowed to target Chinese oil firms.

Earlier this month, the rebels claimed one attack, prompting the Chinese government to call for the safety of its oil workers in the country (OGJ Online, Dec. 13, 2007), while in October JEM rebels said they attacked the Chinese-run Defra oil field.

The rebels accuse China of indirectly funding Khartoum's war effort in Darfur by investing in Sudan's oil industry. They say the Sudanese government receives large royalties from the estimated production of 500,000 b/d, and that some 70% of the oil revenue goes to the military.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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