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Sudanese airforce attacks bishop's aircraft

Sudanese air force bombers attacked an airstrip in the country's remote Nuba Mountains on Monday, narrowly missing a plane carrying human rights advocate Bishop Macram Max Gassis.

The bishop, a long-time champion of Sudan's marginalised peoples, was making his Easter pastoral visit to rural parishes here on the frontlines of Sudan's 18-year-old civil war.

The bishop and his entourage escaped unhurt, but, according to the latest reports, one Nuba militiaman was killed and two civilians seriously injured in the mid-morning attack on the air field by a Russian-made Antonov bomber, Khartoum's instrument of choice in its escalating bombing campaign against civilian targets in rebel-held, or liberated areas of southern and central Sudan.

Nuba porters, diocesan personnel, well wishers and soldiers attached to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) who were guarding the air field scattered for safety. Another relief flight posted to the region, under a Khartoum-ordered relief embargo for a decade, was on final approach, and had to take diversionary action to avoid the besieged field.

The Easter Monday bombing at the Kauda airstrip marks the most serious attack yet on the Church leader and veteran human rights spokesman.

Peter's Voice