May 11, 2008 / 1:48 PM / 12 years ago

France condemns Darfur rebel attack on Khartoum

PARIS, May 11 (Reuters) - France condemned an attack on the Sudanese capital by rebels from Darfur and called for faster deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Sudan’s huge Western region, the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Darfur rebels fought troops in a suburb of Khartoum on Saturday in a bid to seize power. Officials said the attack was defeated, but it was the first time in decades of war that Sudanese rebels brought their battle to the capital.

"France firmly condemns the armed attack against the Sudanese capital. No circumstance can justify such actions," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Sudan broke off diplomatic relations with Chad after the attack, which it said was supported by Chadian President Idriss Deby — an ally of France, which has troops in Chad who have helped Deby defeat Chadian rebels he said were backed by Sudan.

France is also involved in the region through the European Union’s force near Chad’s border with Darfur, which is meant to protect refugees and aid workers. France has a big component of the force.

"This serious attack demonstrates how urgent it is to resolve the Darfur crisis and the destabilising impact of a lack of progress on this matter," the ministry said.

"France calls for an acceleration in the deployment of UNAMID, a resumption of political dialogue and the application of accords contributing to the easing of tensions in the region."

UNAMID is the joint U.N.-AU force in Darfur. Only about 9,000 of the envisaged 26,000 UNAMID peacekeepers have been deployed in Darfur, a region roughly the size of France.

Western governments have blamed Khartoum for the slow pace of deployment, saying it has dragged its feet in approving the force’s composition and set up unnecessary obstacles. (Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Dominic Evans)

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