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International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect
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The New York Times
By Lydia Polgreen
2 March 2008

(...) [The attacks on Darfur by the janjaweed that came three weeks ago] - involving close coordination of air power, army troops and Arab militias in areas where rebel troops have been - have rarely been seen in the past few years, when the violence became more episodic and fractured. But they resemble the kinds of campaigns that first captured the worlds attention and prompted the Bush administration to call the violence in Darfur genocide.

Aid workers, diplomats and analysts say the return of such attacks is an ominous sign that the fighting in Darfur, which has grown more complex and confusing as it has stretched on for five years, is entering a new and deadly phase - one in which the government is planning a scorched-earth campaign against the rebel groups fighting here as efforts to find a negotiated peace founder.

(...) The United Nations estimates that the recent fighting has forced about 45,000 people to flee their homes in Darfur, which is roughly the size of Texas and has a population of about six million people. (...)

(...) Sudan's biggest trading partner and ally, China, has (...) come under pressure from advocates who have linked the Olympic Games in Beijing this summer to the fighting in Darfur. China has been more publicly critical of the Sudanese government in recent weeks. (...)

(...) Despite the pressure, the government seems determined to fight on, and the most powerful rebel groups - the biggest factions of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Liberation Army - have refused to sit down for talks. So the violence continues, tracing a familiar arc as it wears on.

(...) But as the conflict enters its sixth year, an older, deadly pattern is returning, and with it fears are rising among villagers, aid workers, diplomats and analysts that Darfur is headed for a new cycle of bloodletting and displacement on a vast scale.

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