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Pursuing Tribal Leaders Is Risky, Sudanese Official Says

September 29, 2004|From Associated Press

KHARTOUM, Sudan — A high-ranking Sudanese official Tuesday defended an accused ringleader of Arab militia attacks on black villagers as a legitimate tribal leader and warned that any attempt to go after such men could ignite warfare that would tear the country apart.

The U.S. State Department has named Sheik Musa Hilal and six other Sudanese as suspected coordinators of the Arab militias largely blamed for violence in the Darfur region that has killed an estimated 50,000 people. But Sudan's state minister for foreign affairs defended Hilal.

"He is a tribal leader, of a very big, very significant tribe," the minister, Najib Kheir Abdel Wahab, said. "Pointing to some tribal leaders ... will ignite a significant tribal conflagration. And this can lead ... to the dismemberment of Sudan," he said.

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