Sudan rebels vow more attacks on Khartoum, oil facilities

Risks to energy installations and their personnel in Sudan will increase in the next few months, said Tahir Elfaki, head of the legislative council of Sudan's rebel group Justice and Equality Movement.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, May 13 -- Risks to energy installations and their personnel in Sudan will increase in the next few months, particularly on Chinese oil companies operating in the southwest region of the African country, said Tahir Elfaki, head of the legislative council of Sudan's rebel group Justice and Equality Movement.

JEM rebels attacked the nation's capital Khartoum on May 10 and plan to continue launching new attacks on the city, aiming to destabilize the government until it falls, Elfaki said.

He also said JEM is planning operations against oil fields operated by state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. in the central province of Kordofan. Last December, JEM rebels said they attacked the Defra oil facility in south Kordofan (OGJ Online, Dec. 21, 2007).

In London, risk analyst Exclusive Analysis (EA) confirmed that additional attacks by the rebels on Khartoum as well as on energy assets in Kordofan "are likely in the next couple of months."

Confirming the May 10 attack on Khartoum, EA said a rebel column of 50-100 vehicles left JEM's stronghold in Jebel Moun, near the Chadian border in West Darfur, and advanced on the capital, picking up reinforcements along the way.

"After a day of heavy fighting in Omdurman—a suburb across the Nile to the west of the city center—they were repelled by the army," it said.

The analyst also commented on JEM's threats to increase attacks on energy and economically viable assets, especially in south Kordofan.

"Although a large-scale attack on an oil installation would be costly to JEM in terms of loss of lives, the attack on Khartoum shows a willingness to take such losses if the operation is thought to further their strategic aims," EA said.

It said members of JEM are "particularly well placed" to stage attacks in Kordofan, where they have experience operating and where the state presence is more limited, but they are likely to reach beyond this area as well to show their capability.

"This will increase risks to energy installations and staff associated with energy operations over the next couple of months," the analyst said. "Attacks on energy assets are likely to be primarily disruptive, although some property damage would also be probable," it concluded.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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