Date of Publication: 6 December 2001



The issue of Sudanese air force bombing of targets within the ongoing war in southern Sudan, fought between the government and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), has, in recent years, been focused upon by several governments, non-governmental organisations and the media. While there are legitimate concerns about any bombing which may affect civilians, the issue itself has become the subject of a considerable propaganda campaign which has distorted perceptions of the conflict. The subject has also become marred by hypocrisy and double standards. Aerial bombardment has been a feature of many wars. It is certainly an option that has been used with considerable vigour by the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) within the 1990s. Indeed, it has become their weapon of choice. That aerial bombing has been used by the Sudanese armed forces in the course of the civil war in their country is a matter of record. The Sudanese government appears to have chosen to engage in bombing just as the Americans and NATO forces chose to do so in the conflicts in Yugoslavia, Kosovo and, most recently, Afghanistan. And just as in those conflicts it would appear that civilians have died or been injured in the course of aerial bombardments.

Lest there be any doubt about the position taken in this publication, any civilian deaths or injury or the destruction or partial destruction of any civilian infrastructure in the course of any war is unacceptable. Any deliberate targeting of civilians constitutes a grave abuse of human rights and a war crime. What this note seeks to do is examine the claims made about Sudanese bombing against the background of the use of bombing in the other conflicts mentioned, and attempt, as much as possible, to cut away the propaganda that has obscured this issue.

At the onset of the war in Afghanistan, American Secretary of Defence Donald H. Rumsfeld publicly stated: "No nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict". (1) He has also stated: "I don't think there has ever been a bombing campaign in the history of the world done with more care and precision". (2) In the course of the several weeks of American bombing within Afghanistan, however, there is every indication that the United
States air force bombed several hospitals, old age peoples' homes, mosques, residential areas within several towns, villages, United Nations offices, Red Cross installations and several civilian buses, killing several hundred civilians. (3) Pro-American Northern Alliance officials have themselves stated that American warplanes bombed several villages within anti-Taliban areas over the weekend of 1-2 December, killing perhaps as many as 300 civilians - as well as several senior anti-Taliban commanders. (4) In early December, a 2,000 pound "smart" bomb killed 3 American special forces soldiers, injured nineteen others and dozens of anti-Taliban soldiers. The same bomb also narrowly missed killing Hamid Karzai, the American-approved Afghan leader selected as chairman for the interim administration in Afghanistan. (5) It was alleged by the Taliban regime that as of 1 November some 1,500 civilians had died as a result of American bombing. (6) In any instance American bombing has caused considerable concern to human rights organisations. (7) In the course of NATO's bombing campaign in Kosovo, NATO was accused
of killing hundreds of civilians in bombing attacks on residential areas, villages, passenger trains, bridges, hospitals, civilian buses and refugee convoys. (8) It should perhaps also be borne in mind that during the Kosovo air war only 2 percent of the unguided, "dumb" bombs used by the British air force could be confirmed as having hit their targets. There was only a 72 percent hit rate with its "smart" bombs. (9)

The Sudanese air force has similarly been accused of bombing hospitals and civilians in southern Sudan. The United States, NATO and the Sudanese authorities have all stated that any civilian casualties in the course of their respective conflicts have been accidental.

The simple fact is that mistakes are made in war. This point was made by Defence Secretary Rumsfeld: "War is ugly. It causes misery and suffering and death, and we see that every day...needless to say...innocent bystanders can be caught in crossfire. On the other hand, there are instances where in fact there are unintended effects of this conflict, and ordinance ends up where it should not. And we all know that, and that's true of every conflict." (10) The Sudanese war has been no
exception. If we are to accept NATO and the United States at their word that civilians had not been deliberately targeted in Yugoslavia, Kosovo or Afghanistan, and that any civilian deaths or injuries in the course of bombing in those conflicts were accidental, then there is also every reason to accept Sudanese assurances that the same applies to any loss of civilian life or injuries sustained by aerial bombardment in southern Sudan. There are nonetheless those who have insisted that civilians have been deliberately targeted - claims often made as part of propaganda campaigns.

Unreliability of Sources

The first issue that must be examined is the reliability of those who are alleging that civilians have been deliberately targeted in the course of the respective bombing campaigns. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claimed that in the case of Afghanistan the Taliban regime was simply lying about civilian casualties: "They have actively gone out and lied about the civilian casualties and taken the press to places where they would see things that they contended were something other than what they really were." (11) Rumsfeld has also said: "We have seen repeatedly things that are not true put out by the Taliban. We have seen...the lies they have been putting forward, carried across the globe on television and in the press." (12) The Pentagon also categorically denied that United States forces had used chemical weapons in Afghanistan, and one has to ask why Washington would have risked doing so for so little tactical advantage. (13) British Prime Minister Tony Blair also went on record to say: "Be cautious about all of the messages that the Taliban put out from inside of Afghanistan." (14)

In the case of Sudan there have been equal concerns about the credibility of those alleging Sudanese bombing of civilians. These claims have come from similarly partisan sources. The bulk of these claims have been made by the SPLA and Norwegian People's Aid, a non-governmental organisation closely identified with the SPLA, and other NGOs. And, like the Taliban, they have also been disseminating these allegations across the globe on television and in the press. Just as the
American government urged caution about Taliban claims, similar caution should be exercised with regard to SPLA claims. Dr Peter Nyaba, an SPLA
national executive member, in his book 'The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider's View', has spoken candidly of what he describes as the SPLA's "sub-culture of lies, misinformation, cheap propaganda and exhibitionism": "Much of what filtered out of the SPLM/A propaganda machinery, notably Radio SPLA, was about 90% disinformation or things concerned with the military combat, mainly news about the fighting which were always efficaciously exaggerated." (15) How many
claims of deliberate civilian bombing on the part of the government fall into the 90 percent of SPLA "disinformation" as described above? Similarly, claims made by Norwegian People's Aid are questionable. The Norwegian government has investigated NPA's involvement in Sudan. Its report stated that: "NPA's intervention is that of a solidarity group. It has taken a clear side in the war." (16) It is also evident that Norwegian People's Aid has served as propagandists for the SPLA. The
Norwegian government report stated that: "The publicity, which NPA has been able to supply in favour of the Movement, has...been significant. NPA briefed journalists and guided them in the field."

And, in an echo of Taliban claims about American use of chemical weapons, Norwegian People's Aid claimed in July 1999 that Sudanese government forces had definitely used chemical weapons in southern Sudan. (17) United Nations tests conducted on test samples in the areas cited by Norwegian People's Aid "indicated no evidence of exposure to chemicals". (18) The British government conducted extensive tests on similar samples and concluded that "there is no evidence to substantiate the allegations that chemical weapons were used in these incidents in the Sudan." (19) The results of the tests run by the Finnish Institute for Verification of Chemical Weapons also "...revealed no relevant chemicals." (20) Just as with Taliban accusations of American use of chemical weapons, one has to query what possible tactical advantage the Sudanese would have been gained by any such use of chemical weapons, especially given that Sudan has recently emerged out of international isolation.

The Use of Civilians as Human Shields

The American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has stated that "let there be no doubt: Responsibility for every single casualty in this war, be they innocent Afghans or innocent Americans, rests at the feet of [the] Taliban and Al Qaeda. [They] are the ones that are hiding in mosques and using Afghan civilians as 'human shields' by placing their armor and artillery in close proximity to civilians, schools, hospitals and the like. When the Taliban issue accusations of civilian casualties,
they indict themselves." (21) It is noteworthy that CNN guidelines have also suggested that CNN journalists should lay responsibility for civilian casualties at the Taliban's door, not the American government's. (22)

The Sudanese government has claimed that Sudanese rebels have used civilians as human shields. The SPLA's tactic of using civilian installations, premises and areas for military purposes has long been noted. In 1999, for example, the unanimous resolution passed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights urged "in particular the Sudan People's Liberation Army, to abstain from using civilian premises for military purposes". (23) In 2000 the Special Rapporteur on the Situation
of Human Rights in the Sudan condemned the SPLA's use of "civilian installations for military purposes". (24) The Sudanese government has repeatedly called upon the international community to pressurise the SPLA to stop using civilians for cover. In September 2000, for example, the Sudanese Foreign Minister Dr Mustapha Osman Ismail asked the United Nations to "bring pressure to bear on the rebel movement so as to stop using civilian installations such as hospitals and schools as human shields". (25) Gerhard Baum, the Special Rapporteur, in November 2001, reiterated this concern: "SPLM/A military installations are often amidst civilian infrastructures, which affects the rate of civilian casualties during government bombing incidents." (26) In October 2001, the Joint Parliamentary Assembly of the European Union-African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States also placed on record that it was "deeply concerned by the use of civilian premises for military purposes". (27)

It is perhaps worth comparing comments made by the Sudanese government and NATO on the subject of human shields. With reference to NATO's air war in Yugoslavia, in 1999 the Voice of America stated that NATO spokesman Jamie Shea "insists the Yugoslav authorities have been using human shield...He says President Slobodan Milosevic has no scruples about using civilians this way. But he says NATO will never intentionally target civilians...However, he insists the use of human shields is not going to stop NATO from continuing its air campaign." (28) In 2001, the Sudanese foreign minister stated that air strikes by government forces "are not targeting civilians but the government will not allow the rebel movement to use civilians as human shields". He said that: "The use of air power will continue against the rebels wherever they are and we will take care to avoid civilians." (29)

Sophisticated Weaponry

There can be little doubt that the United States and NATO forces have had access to the most sophisticated weaponry available. It was reported, for example, that the United States air force was using a variety of "smart" weapons, including guided cruise missiles and bombs that rely on an array of satellites to strike targets. These also included "Joint Direct Attack Munitions" (JDAM), a technology which upgrades 1,000 pound and 2,000 pound bombs into "accurate, adverse weather 'smart' munitions" according to a US Air Force fact sheet. (30) 'The Times' of London newspaper reported that: "The relatively new JDAM weapon, linked to a satellite, should provide the most accurate form of bombing and its deployment...helped to underwrite political statements in Washington that the airstrikes had been meticulously planned to try to avoid civilian casualties." Despite this sophistication, it was also 'The Times' newspaper that reported that it was a JDAM bomb that hit a residential area of Kabul killing several civilians. (31) In comparison, the Sudanese air force is working with very old equipment. The bombs it uses are pushed out of refitted ageing Soviet-era Antonov transport aircraft. (32)

Sophisticated Intelligence Sources

The United States government is served by thirteen separate intelligence agencies. Their budget amounts to almost thirty billion dollars a year:
85 percent of this budget is dedicated to military intelligence. The primary mission of these intelligence agencies is "to collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist the President and senior US Government policymakers in making decisions relating to the national security". (33) Amongst the many resources at the disposal of these intelligence agencies are satellites that can see everything imaginable and that can monitor every electronic communication on the face of the
earth. In the Yugoslav, Kosovo and Afghanistan air campaigns, these intelligence resources were augmented by the equally impressive intelligence capabilities of NATO and NATO's constituent members. In comparison, the intelligence resources available to the Sudanese air force pale into insignificance. In spite of the resources available to them both the United States and NATO repeatedly hit civilian targets.

The Spectre of Propaganda

There is no doubt that any bombing of civilians or civilian areas makes for powerful propaganda. All the conflicts touched upon in this note have been no exception to this. The air campaign in southern Sudan has been a particular target for those seeking to demonise the Khartoum government. Interestingly, it has been the American government that has been at the forefront of this propaganda campaign, responding enthusiastically and unquestioningly to claims of civilian bombing as
made by the SPLA or Norwegian People's Aid.

Comments made in October 2001 by the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Andrew Natsios are typical of this propaganda. In the course of a key-note speech Natsios went out of his way to criticise Sudanese air force bombings in the course of the war in southern Sudan. He specifically referred to an incident involving the World Food Programme in southern Sudan where an area approved for food deliveries was bombed by the air force. Natsios claimed that this "could hardly have been an accident." (34) Yet, on 16 October, four days after Mr Natsios delivered his lecture on the ethics of bombing, and his articulation of somewhat arbitrary judgements about Sudanese intentions, the American air force bombed very clearly marked Red Cross warehouses in Kabul, Afghanistan. The American air force returned on 26 October and bombed the same clearly-marked Red Cross compound, buildings containing food and blankets for 55,000 disabled and vulnerable people. The International Committee of the Red Cross condemned the American bombings as a "violation of international humanitarian law". (35) 'The Washington Post' also reported that the American air force bombed less than 500 feet of a World Food Programme facility in northern Kabul, wounding one aid worker. (36) The missiles struck as trucks were being loaded with humanitarian aid. Using Mr Natsios' own facile logic, these incidents could hardly have been an accident, or were they?

What conclusions can be drawn about propaganda and bombing? While Defence Secretary Rumsfeld has repeatedly declared how incredibly careful the American air force has been in its aerial bombing within Afghanistan, "no nation in human history has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the United States has in this conflict", the simple fact is that the American government has killed hundreds of innocent civilians, in several cases whole villages, in its bombing, and on 26
November 2001, United States warplanes bombed positions at Konduz, killing dozens of pro-American Afghan allies and injuring five American special forces soldiers. (37) Given that American 'smart bombs' have managed to kill several American servicemen, and injure dozens more, as well as killing and injuring a lot more of its own Afghan allies, one can perhaps give Washington the benefit of the doubt with regard to their ultimate intentions. This despite the most sophisticated weaponry
known to Man, missile systems guided by a thirty billion dollar intelligence machine, and a desperate desire to avoid such casualties. It might be pointed out that in comparison the Sudanese air force are using antiquated aircraft and comparatively inaccurate bomb delivery systems - certainly when placed alongside the state-of-the-art laser-guided, "smart" bombs used by the most sophisticated air force in the world. And it is also clear that for its own political and international reasons, the Sudanese government is just as concerned as the United States is to avoid civilian casualties. It would appear, however, from Washington's attitude towards Sudan that only the American air force can bomb civilians by accident.

End the War and the Bombing Will End

It is perfectly understandable that the European Union and others criticise instances within Sudan where bombing has resulted in the death or injury of civilians. While these criticisms are valid these critics should also be putting even more pressure upon those parties who seek to continue the war - bombing and bombing-related casualties being but one of the many horrific consequences of the war itself. These groups should also note the fact that it has been the government of Sudan that has on numerous, well-documented occasions offered unconditional comprehensive cease-fires, and that it has been the rebels who have pointedly refused them. It has also not escaped the attention of most of the international community that on the occasions that the Sudanese government, conscious of international concerns about bombing, has declared a cessation of aerial bombardment within southern Sudan, the rebels have responded with new and vigorous military offensives: these offensives have themselves provoked a continuation of bombing in counter-response. Not to note these circumstances, and merely to focus exclusively upon the government of Sudan - the approach taken by the United States government - is deeply cynical where not simply disingenuous. The United States position
is all the more questionable given that there is every reason to believe that the United States has itself been prolonging the Sudanese conflict by militarily and otherwise assisting the SPLA rebel movement.

On 24 May 2001, as but one example, as a response to international concerns, the Sudanese government stated that it would unilaterally cease air strikes against military targets in southern Sudan. (38) The Sudanese government also said that it called "upon the other parties for an immediate response for boosting the peace process in the country and appeals to the international community to back up the call for a comprehensive ceasefire." (39) Immediately following this declaration
and call for peace, the Bush Administration granted millions of dollars worth of assistance to Sudanese rebels. (40) Shortly after the announcement of this American encouragement, the SPLA launched a concerted offensive in the Bahr al-Ghazal region of southern Sudan. The offensive continued during pivotal peace talks in Nairobi in early June, with the rebels ignoring further calls for a peaceful solution to the conflict. (41)

This American-encouraged SPLA offensive, aimed at capturing several towns within Bahr al-Ghazal, resulted in massive displacement of southern Sudanese civilians. The Sudanese Catholic Information Office reported that most activities within the region had been halted by the offensive: "locations from Tonj northwards remain no go areas forcing both church and humanitarian agencies to suspend their flights to the region." (42) On 13 June the Roman Catholic Bishop of Rumbek, Bishop
Mazzolari, reported that just under 60,000 civilians had been displaced by the offensive, and that these civilians were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. (43) Unsurprisingly, the Sudanese government reacted to the offensive and mobilised forces to check SPLA attacks. (44) Ten days into the offensive, in order "to defend itself in the face of continued aggression" by the SPLA, Khartoum announced the resumption of military air strikes within southern Sudan. (45) It must be noted that having been responsible directly or indirectly for encouraging the offensive in question in Bahr al-Ghazal, the Bush Administration then expressed outrage when Khartoum was forced to resume the use of air strikes against rebel forces in the region. (46) The European Union for its part was much more balanced, expressing its concern at the renewed military activity by the SPLA "particularly in Bahr al-Ghazal in Southern Sudan" and by Khartoum's resumption of bombing in response to the offensive. (47)

It is worth noting that in his response to American criticism with regard to aerial bombing, Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail states that the US "openly sides with the rebel movement and offers it political and military assistance". Regarding the accusations of bombing civilian targets he has stated: "The American administration repeats allegations by the rebel movement without bothering to verify them". Bombing civilian targets "is not part of the government policy", he adds, but accuses the SPLA of using humanitarian relief sites as "shields of protection". He states: "It is legitimate to target the military bases of the rebel movement...[relief sites] have become venues of planning for attacking and occupying more [government held] towns". (48)

It is also worth noting that as part of a programme to incorporate international humanitarian law into the training of Sudanese armed forces, in 2000 40 Sudanese Air Force officers attended a law of war course in Khartoum organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Sudan. After this course, the Sudanese Air Force commander affirmed his commitment to ensure that all air force personnel respect the law. (49)



There are two things which must be noted about the United States bombing in Afghanistan. Firstly, Washington emphasised on several occasions that it would be taking every possible care not to accidentally kill civilians. (50) Secondly, they have also emphasised the use of high tech weaponry. Nonetheless hundreds of civilians have died.

On 9 October 2001 American airplanes bombed the United Nations de-mining office in Kabul, killing 4 UN workers. 'The Washington Post' stated that: "Pentagon briefers have emphasized their careful target selection. But "on occasion," Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said..."there will be people hurt that one wished had not been. I don't think there is any way in the world to avoid that..." (51) It was reported that: "After the death of four UN employees in Kabul, American target-pickers are under
pressure to avoid sites close to civilian homes or other buildings. The United Nations Afghanistan coordinator for humanitarian aid Mike Sackett stated that: "People need to distinguish between combatants and those innocent civilians who do not bear arms." (52) On 11 October the Taliban claimed that American bombs had killed 100 people in a village nearJalalabad. A article confirmed that American warplanes had struck the village of Khrum, some 20 miles away from Jalalabad. The 'Time' journalist calculated that around 100 civilians were killed, and the whole village was "razed to the ground" by mistake. (53) Fifteen people were said to have been killed in an attack on a mosque in Jalalabad and ten civilians east of Kabul; a hospital was bombed, killing four dead and 13 civilians died in bombing in Kandahar; on 19 October two buses carrying refugees and a hospital were hit by American bombs. A hospital in Herat was also bombed killing patients and staff,
and on 30/31 October a Red Crescent hospital was also bombed in Kandahar, killing 15 civilians. (54) US warplanes were said to have bombed a Red Crescent hospital near Kandahar, killing 15 people and severely injuring 25 others. (55) The Pentagon also admitted that American warplanes had dropped a 1,000 pound bomb on an old people's home near the western Afghan city of Herat. (56)

The BBC reported that "US military warplanes 'inadvertently dropped bombs' on Red Cross warehouses and on a nearby residential area in the Afghan capital Kabul, the US Defence Department said on Friday. US Navy fighters and B-52 bombers mistakenly bombed six warehouses used by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), destroying vital stocks. This is the second time ICRC buildings have been hit since US air strikes began on 7 October. Two of the warehouses hit this time were struck last time around". A Red Cross spokesman stated that all Red Cross installations were clearly marked and all parties in the conflict had been told their locations: he added that the bombing took place in good visibility. (57)

On 22 October US warplanes bombed the village of Chowkar-Karez. The Taliban claimed that up to 100 civilians, almost the entire population of the village, were killed. A Human Rights Watch group and western journalists were able to visit the area. They were able to confirm that villagers had died in the attack. The Canadian 'Globe and Mail' newspaper reported that the bombing of the village "has become the best documented bombing of the four-week-old war. It has also become something of a touchstone in the battle for credibility, and the Pentagon's handling of the information that has emerged has led some observers to wonder whether Washington really knows what is going on in the field...'It begins to make you question not only the credibility of the information that's coming back to us as members of the public but also the kind of information and intelligence that's going into the selection of targets,' said Sidney Jones, the director of the Asian division of Human Rights Watch...Witnessed talked to by the Western reporters claimed there were no Taliban troops in the village and that U.S. planes opened fire on people as they attempted to flee the bombs." (58) The 'Globe and Mail' reported that American Defence Secretary Rumsfeld "professed ignorance" about the attack, stating "I cannot deal with that particular village". On 1 November 2001, Human Rights Watch issued a press release entitled "Pentagon Should Explain Civilian Deaths in Chowkar". 'The Times' published an account of the bombing of the village entitled: "Death Falls From Sky on Village of Innocents", which documented bombing and strafing attacks on the village, reporting that thirty-five civilians were killed and others injured. Eighteen members of one family, five of them children, were said to have been machine-gunned by American gunships. (59)

On 22 October 2001, Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, denied that there was evidence that American warplanes had bombed a hospital in Herat: "We have absolutely no evidence at all that would suggest that that correct. I'm sure it's not." It was alleged that over one hundred civilians had died in the attack. (60) On 25 October the Pentagon admitted that American warplanes may well have hit the hospital in Herat with a 1,000 pound bomb. (61)

In an article entitled "Bombing Errors Prove Major Test for US Resolve", 'The Independent' newspaper reported on 29 October that: "There have been four separate reports of accidental US strikes on civilian targets in Afghanistan in the past 48 hours, including the bombing of a village in the area controlled by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance." One of these attacks had resulted in the deaths of seven children in their Kabul home. (62) Reuters reported on 26 October than seven civilians
had died in American overnight bombing in Kabul. (63) On the same day Agence France Presse reported that American cluster bombs had killed eight civilians in the west of Afghanistan. The Taliban regime also claimed that 36 civilians had died when a bus was hit by American missiles. The ICRC stated that civilian deaths were mounting. (64) Reuters reported that a US bombs had killed twelve civilians in attacks in Kabul as well as other civilians in an attack on a minibus. Reuters also claimed that several villagers were killed or injured when American warplanes mistakenly bombed the Northern-alliance held village of Ghanikhel. (65) Four children were killed in an attack on a civilian area of Kabul. (66)

On 21 November, 'The Daily Telegraph', a noted pro-American British newspaper, published an article entitled "Village of Death Casts Doubts Over US Intelligence". The article reported that American warplanes had hit the same village on two occasions, killing first seven and then four villagers, mostly women and children. A village elder asked the reporter: "Please tell the Americans they are bombing their allies...This is the third time in two days that our village has been bombed." (67) 'The Times' of London published a number of articles with headlines such as: "Bombing Victim Tells How US Raid Hit Village", an attack in which it was claimed that 200 civilians had been killed (68); "He is burying his wife bit by bit as he digs her out of the rubble", reporting that a village had been hit by US bombs, killing a number of civilians, and concluding that a "horrible mistake" had been made. (69)



Amnesty International stated that NATO forces had violated international law and committed war crimes by targeting and killing civilians during the Kosovo conflict. Amnesty cited nine incidents during the bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and alleged that NATO had failed to properly select methods and targets to avoid civilian deaths. An Amnesty International spokesman stated: "NATO set itself up as upholding humanitarian standards, which it has not done. [We] think they have to
answer for that." Among Amnesty's accusations were the following accusations: NATO's bombing of the Serbian TV headquarters, which killed 16 civilians; NATO's bombing of a bridge while a passenger train was crossing, hitting the train and killing civilians on board; NATO's attacks on convoys that included displaced civilians; NATO's decision not to suspend bombing of targets even after it was clear that civilians had been hit; NATO's bombing from 15,000 feet which was not adequate to
ensure that civilians were not killed. Serbia claimed that 600 civilians had been killed in the bombings. (70) NATO spokesman Jamie Shea admitted mistakes were made: "We were attacking purely military targets. Where accidents occurred they occurred as a result of tragedies, failures of technology, of human error that always accompany military operations."(71)

The ABC news channel also provided examples of NATO bombings of civilians. These included the 12 April 2000 bombing of a passenger train south of Belgrade which killed 30 people (NATO apologised for an "uncanny accident"; a 14 April bombing of a convoy of ethnic Albanian civilians which killed 64 people; a 27 April 2000 bombing of a housing estate which killed 20 civilians; 1 May 2000 bombing of a bus which killed 39 people; a 3 May 2000 bombing of a bus, killing 20 civilians;
the 7 May bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in which three Chinese journalists were killed; the 13 May bombing of the Kosovo village of Korisa which resulted in the deaths of 87 ethnic Albania civilians (NATO accused the Serbians of using villagers as human shields); a 20 May 2000 bombing of a hospital in Belgrade which killed several patients and injured others (the residences of the Spanish and Swedish ambassadors were also hit); a 30 May 2000 air attack on a
crowded bridge in central Serbia, killing nine civilians and injuring 17 others. There were many other mistakes. (72)

On 20 April 2000 the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Mrs Mary Robinson, criticised NATO for killing "large numbers of civilians". On 28 April 2000, NATO airplanes bombed Bulgaria by mistake for the third time. On 1 June NATO aircraft bombed Albania by mistake.


1 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.

2 "Pakistanis Tone Down Call to Halt Airstrikes: Rumsfeld is Cautioned About Muslim Reaction", 'The Washington Post', 5 November

3 See, for example, "Bombings That Hit Wrong Targets in Afghanistan", News Article by Reuters, 23 October 2001.

4 "US Bombs Hit the Wrong Target for Second Time in Two Days", 'The Independent' (London), 3 December 2001.

5 "New Afghan Leader Escapes 'Friendly Fire", 'The Times' (London), 6 December 2001.

6 "1,500 Killed in US Raids", 'The Times' (London), 1 November 2001.

7 See, for example, "Afghanistan: U.S. Bombs Kill Twenty-three Civilians. Rights Group Urges Immediate Investigation, Human Rights Watch, 26 October 2001 and "Afghanistan: New Civilian Deaths Due to U.S. Bombing", Human Rights Watch, 30 October 2001

8 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC, 7 June 2000.

9 "Kosovo 'Dumb Bombs' Missing in Action", 'The Times' (London), 15 August 2000.

10 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.

11 "US Military Strikes Assailed - Civilians Killed By Cluster Bombs", News Article by Agence France Presse, 26 October 2001.

12 "Lies, Damned Lies and War Propaganda", 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 29 October 2001.

13 "Rumsfeld Dismisses Claim of Bomb Raid on Hospital", 'The Times' (London), 23 October 2001.

14 "Taliban Takes Hits on Several Fronts", 'The Dallas Morning News', 19 October 2001.

15 Peter Nyaba, 'The Politics of Liberation in South Sudan: An Insider's View', Fountain Publishers, Kampala, 1997, pp.55, 66.

16 'Evaluation of Norwegian Humanitarian Assistance to the Sudan', A report submitted to the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, COWI, Royal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo, November 1997, p.27.

17 See, for example, 'Confirmed Chemical Bombing in Southern Sudan', Norwegian People's Aid, 2 August 1999.

18 United Nations communication to the Sudanese Ministry of External Relations, UN Resident Coordinator in Sudan, 17 October 1999.

19 Letter to Baroness Cox Regarding the testing of Sudan samples at the Chemical and Biological Defence Agency, from Baroness Symons,
Minister of State for Defence Procurement, (Reference D/MIN(DP)/ECS/13/3/3), London, 5 June 2000.

20 See, "Analysis of Samples from Sudan", Helsinki 20 June 2000 as published in 'The ASA Newsletter', Issue No. 79, 2000, Applied Science and Analysis Inc, available at

21 "Pentagon Defends Strikes as Civilian Toll Rises", 'The Los Angeles Times', 30 October 2001.

22 See, for example, "Action Alert: CNN Says Focus on Civilian Casualties Would Be "Perverse", Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Washington-DC, 1 November 2001.

23 "Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan", Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1999/15, Geneva, 23 April 1999, E/CN.4/Res/1999/15

24 "Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan", Commission on Human Rights, United Nations General Assembly, Fifty-Sixth Session, New York, 19 April 2000.

25 "Sudan: UN Asked to Pressure Rebels", U.N. Integrated Regional Information Network, Nairobi, 20 September 2000.

26 Gerhard Baum, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Sudan. Statement made to the Third Committee, United Nations General Assembly, New York, 8 November 2001, E/CN.4/2000/36

27 "Resolution of the Situation in the Sudan", ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Brussels, 29 October - 1 November 2001.

28 "NATO/Kosovo", News Article by Voice of America, 16 May 1999.

29 "Sudan Vows Not to be Deterred by 'Human Shields' in War on Rebels", News Article by Agence France Presse, 3 January 2001.

30 "U.S. Using High-Tech Weaponry", 'The Dallas Morning Post', 9 October 2001.

31 "Smart Bombs can be Stupid", 'The Times'(London), 25 October 2001.

32 See, for example, "Despite a Ban on Air Raids, Civilians Keep a Watchful Eye", 'The Philadelphia Inquirer', 3 May 2000.

33 'Frequently Asked Questions', Central Intelligence Agency Official Website at

34 Natsios, "A Reinvigorated Commitment to the People of Sudan", U.S. Holocaust Museum, Washington-DC, 12 October 2001

35 "Red Cross Warehouse Hit Again", 'The Daily Telegraph' (London), 27 October 2001.

36 "Bombs, Lawlessness Threaten Aid Efforts", 'The Washington Post', 17 October 2001.

37 "The Fort of Hell", 'The Sunday Times' (London), 2 December 2001.

38 See, for example, "Sudan Declares End to Air Raids on Rebels in South", News Article by Reuters on 24 May 2001, and "Sudanese Government Declares Halt to Air Raids in South", News Article by Agence FrancePresse on 24 May 2001.

39 "Sudanese Government Declares Halt to Air Raids", News Article by Agence France Presse on 24 May 2001.

40 "Sudanese Rebels to Receive Dlrs 3 Million in Assistance', News Article by Associated Press on 25 May 2001.

41 See, for example, "Khartoum Urges Rebels to 'Stop Fighting and Talk"', News Article by Agence France Presse on 5 June 2001 and "Sudan's Government Calls on International Community to Push for Cease-Fire", News Article by Associated Press on 5 June 2001.

42 "Civilians Flee Town Under Siege", News Article by Sudanese Catholic Information Office, Nairobi, 8 June 2001.

43 "Fighting in Sudan's Bahr el Ghazal Leaves 57,000 Displaced: Bishop", News Article by Agence France Presse on 13 June 2001.

44 See, for example, "Sudan's Beshir Steps Up Mobilisation Against Rebel Offensive", News Article by Agence France Presse on 7 June 2001, and "Sudan Mobilizes as Rebel Forces Advance", News Article by Middle East Newsline, Cairo on 8 June 2001.

45 See "URGENT Khartoum Announces Resumption of Air Strikes in South", News Article by Agence France Presse on 11 June 2001.

46 'U.S. Concerned at Reports of Air Raids in Sudan', News Article by Reuters on 8 June 2001.

47 "Declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on Sudanese Peace Process", Brussels, 12 June 2001.

48 "Khartoum Accuses Washington of Fanning War in Sudan", News Article by Agence France Presse, 27 August 2000.

49 "First Law of War Course for Sudanese Air Force Officers", International Committee of the Red Cross News No. 13, 5 April 2001

50 See, for example, "Smart Bombs can be Stupid", 'The Times' (London), 25 October 2001.

51 "Bombs, Lawlessness Threaten Aid Efforts", 'The Washington Post', 17 October 2001.

52 "Bombings That Hit Wrong Targets in Afghanistan", News Article by Reuters, 23 October 2001.

53 "Another Day's Bombing in Jalalabad",, 19 October 2001.

54 Special Reports, "Attack on Afghanistan: US Response", 'The Guardian' Interactive Guide at,1361,567573,00.html

55 "Afghan Hospital Strike 'Kills 15'", News Article by Associated Press, 31 October 2001.

56 See "Pentagon Admits US Jets Bombed Old People's Home in Afghan City", 'The Independent', London, 24 October 2001.

57 "US Admits Second Bombing Error", News Article by BBC, 27 October 2001.

58 "Bombing of Farming Village Undermines U.S. Credibility", 'The Globe and Mail'(Toronto), 3 November 2001.

59 "Death Falls From Sky on Village of Innocents", 'The Times' (London), 2 November 2001.

60 "Rumsfeld Dismisses Claim of Bomb Raid on Hospital", 'The Times' (London), 23 October 2001.

61 "US Admits Dropping 1,000lb Bomb on Old People's Home", 'The Daily Telegraph' (London), 25 October

62 "Bombing Errors Prove Major Test for US Resolve", 'The Independent' (London), 29 October 2001.

63 "Kabul Bombed Overnight - US Bombs Kill Seven More Civilians", News Article by Reuters, 26 October 2001.

64 "US Military Strikes Assailed - Civilians Killed By Cluster Bombs", News Article by Agence France Presse,
26 October 2001.

65 "US Bombers Kill Kabul Family and Busloads of Refugees", News Article by Reuters, 29 October 2001.

66 "US Missed Most Kabul Targets, Aid Workers Say", 'The Times' (London), 20 October 2001.

67 "Village of Death Casts Doubts Over US Intelligence", 'The Daily Telegraph' (London), 21 November.

68 "Bombing Victim Tells How US Raid Hit Village", 'The Times' (London), 13 October 2001

69 "He is burying his wife bit by bit as he digs her out of the rubble", 'The Times' (London), 15 October 2001.

70 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC News, 7 June 2000.

71 "Harsh Allegations: NATO Denies it Committed War Crimes in Kosovo Conflict", News Article by ABC News, 7 June 2000.

72 "NATO's Deadly Mistakes", "Coverage of Kosovo", ABC, 17 January 2001 .


Espac Published by The European - Sudanese Public Affairs Council Copyright © David Hoile 2005
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