Helicopter gunships of Sudan’s militant Islamic regime killed at least 17 civilians, including women and children, and seriously injured many others during relief distribution by the U.N.’s World Food Program, according to international workers.

The attack on Wednesday, which followed a similar assault less than two weeks ago, is part of the National Islamic Front’s “scorched-earth policy” aimed at ridding the oil-rich area of civilians, says Eric Reeves, a noted Sudan researcher and analyst at Smith College in Massachusetts.

“What Khartoum is bent on doing with those oil revenues is to acquire additional military assets in order to complete its self-described jihad” against the mostly Christian and animist south, Reeves told WorldNetDaily.

That assessment is backed by at least four separate reports, conducted by the Canadian government and Amnesty International in 2000, and last year by the group Christian Aid and a British-Canadian human rights team.

“Khartoum wants to effect a final solution to what they perceive as their southern problem,” Reeves said. “And it is truly genocidal in ambition.”

Backed by Muslim clerics, the National Islamic Front regime in the Arab and Muslim north is waging a campaign to force Islam on the south. Since 1983, an estimated 2 million people have died from the war and attendant famine. About 4.5 million have become refugees.

The U.S. House of Representatives in 1999 overwhelmingly adopted a resolution finding that “the National Islamic Front government is deliberately and systematically committing genocide in southern Sudan, the Nuba Mountains, and the Ingressa Hills.”

The House has passed a bill, the Sudan Peace Act, that would impose capital market sanctions on the oil companies operating in the country, denying them New York Stock Exchange listings. But the Senate version does not include those sanctions and the bill is in limbo, awaiting a conference to reconcile the two versions.

The bill is opposed by the White House and Wall Street, Reeves notes.

“A measure that was introduced into the Senate by Republican Senator Bill Frist in July of 1999 is in February of 2002 being held up by the Senate Republican leadership,” he said. “It’s absolutely a disgrace to the legislative process.”

The attack on the Bieh relief center in Western Upper Nile followed assaults on the Akuem and Nimni centers Feb. 9 that killed several people, including children.

On Wednesday, a helicopter hovered over the World Food Program compound and fired five rockets into an area where “a large number of vulnerable people had gathered, waiting to receive food,” the WFP said in a statement yesterday condemning the attack. WFP says it had a team of two people on the ground to distribute 76 metric tons of food to 10,000 people.

WFP Executive Director Catherine Bertini called the deliberate targeting of “civilians about to receive humanitarian assistance” an “intolerable affront to human life and to humanitarian work.”

After initially denying the Feb. 9 attack, Khartoum issued a statement Feb. 13 expressing its “profound regrets” over the bombing at Akuem in Bahr el-Ghazal province, insisting that it was a “technical error” and promising that it would not happen again.

“What’s significant about that,” Reeves said, “is that they did not acknowledge what they knew at the time – that there already had been another attack on Nimni the same day, 160 miles east.”

The attack this week “makes nonsense of pledging there would be no repeat of the incident,” Reeves said, “to have a helicopter gunship fire rockets into thousands of people gathered at a U.N. World Food Program center to receive emergency food aid. This is just despicable prevarication.”

On the day of the Feb. 9 attack, Khartoum Minister of Foreign Affairs Mustafa Uthman Isma’il conducted an interview in Washington with the C-SPAN television network in which he denied his regime oppressed Christians and abetted slavery.

Meanwhile, Islamic law has been applied to a pregnant Christian woman who received 75 lashes for allegedly committing adultery, according to U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Abok Alfa Akok, 18, whose death sentence was overturned by a Sudanese appeals court, contends that she was raped while her husband was away for six months. However, she was unable to produce the four male witnesses required by Islamic law to validate her statement.

The appeals court overturned Abok’s sentence following international protest and recommended that she receive a “rebuke” sentence instead.

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The March edition of WorldNetDaily’s magazine Whistleblower examines the untold story of persecution of Christians worldwide.

“Sudan: The Hidden Holocaust”

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