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US 'Outraged' at Sudanese Attack on WFP Site - 2002-02-13


The United States has angrily condemned a Sudanese government air strike against a World Food Program delivery site in the southern part of the country. The attack, which occurred last Sunday, is reported to have killed two children and injured a dozen more civilians.

A written statement from State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States is "outraged" by the bombing attack, which he said broke the Khartoum government's pledge to U.S. peace envoy John Danforth to halt bombing of civilian targets for four weeks.

According to the State Department, Sudanese aircraft dropped six bombs on a World Food Program emergency drop site in the southern state of Bahr al-Ghazal, only three hours after relief planes had dropped supplies there.

The casualties, it said, were among civilians who had gone to the site to collect the food. It said the relief planes had gotten flight clearance from the government and had flown from a government airfield.

Spokesman Boucher said that what he termed "this horrific and senseless attack" indicates that a pattern of deliberately targeting civilian and humanitarian operations by Khartoum authorities continues.

Last month, with U.S. and Swiss diplomatic help, the Sudanese government and southern rebels signed a renewable six-month cease-fire accord, covering a rebel stronghold in the Nuba mountains region of central Sudan.

However spokesman Boucher said the United States, through the mission of former Senator Danforth, had been unable to arrange a broader accord to end attacks on civilians, and that Sunday's attack underlines the need to reach such an agreement, with viable verification provisions, as soon as possible.

The World Food Program, from its Geneva headquarters, also condemned the bombing and said the people the organization is trying to supply are in desperate need and "living on the edge."

The Sudanese conflict, underway for nearly two decades, is one of Africa's longest-running civil wars and has left more than two million people dead from the fighting and war-related famine.

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