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Darfur conflict the latest in al-Bashir's military career

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Darfur conflict the latest in al-Bashir's military career


Omar al-Bashir has been a military man his whole adult life.

After fighting Israel with the Egyptian army in 1973, he returned to Sudan to combat rebels in a civil war. He rose through the ranks and a coup d’Etat in 1989 brought him to the head of an Islamist military junta.

The 1990s saw him accumulate powers while the decades-long civil war continued, a conflict played out mostly in the south of Africa’s largest country.

Then in 2003, just as the civil war was abating, another violent rebellion erupted in the western region of Darfur.

Darfurian villages were decimated. Black African civilians were targetted by Arab Janjaweed militia, who were helping pro-government forces fight local rebels.

When UN troops arrived in Seleia they entered a village of 200 people. Before the Janjaweed attack the population had been around 25,000.

Sudan’s government admits backing what it calls “self-defence militias” to quash the rebellion. But it denies it has anything to do with the Janjaweed and the alleged ethnic cleansing of black African tribes.

Refugees fleeing Darfur say the Janjaweed ride into town after government air strikes, destroying all that remains.

Women are sometimes spared, but only to be taken by their attackers and kept as slaves.

The UN says the conflict has left at least 300,000 people dead. Another 2.5 million have been displaced and forced into crowded refugee camps.

For years, President Bashir resisted the deployment of UN peacekeepers to the region and even today only 9,000 UNAMID troops are in place out of a planned 26,000.

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