Sudan Rebels Raze Town, Comboni Mission
NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar. 15, 01 (CWNews.com/Fides) - Rebels of
the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) attacked and razed
to the ground the town of Nyal, in the Western Upper Nile
region; 15,000 people fled and a Catholic Comboni mission
and church were burned.
The attack took place on February 22, but the Comboni
Justice and Peace Commission just released the news. Three
priests and 19 humanitarian workers had fled the center two
days before after being informed of the plan to attack.
The attack on Nyal was due to disputes in the rebel ranks
between ethnic Nuer fighting with the SPLA and Dinka with
the rival Sudan Peoples Democratic Front (SPDF). The Nuer
leader, Peter Gatdet, and his allies, the Bul Nuer, have
their strategic base on the edge of oil fields in western
Upper Nile. Until the attack the small town was, and still
is, controlled by the Nyong clan which supports the SPDF.
The Comboni missionaries say the attack was a "classical
demonstration of what has become a farce fueled by
partisans and ulterior motives like revenge." Fighting in
Sudan has already taken more than 2 million lives, caused 4
million internally displaced persons, and 600,000 refugees
in neighboring countries.
This is not the first time that the Comboni missionaries,
serving in the Upper Nile region since 1996, have had to
flee to safety. In June 1998 they had to abandon their
mission in Leer, taking refuge with the townspeople in
Nyal. In May 1999 one of the missionaries had to flee
together with the people he was visiting in Koch after the
area was attacked by Gatdet.
The 30 Comboni missionaries in Sudan are committed not to
abandon the war-torn country and suffering people. The
mainly Christian and animist rebels are fighting the
Islamic government in Khartoum for independence for the
south of the African country.
March 16, 2001
volume 12, no. 75
News from the Universal Church