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Reports: Member of Sudanese Parliament killed in fighting

March 23, 1997

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ A member of the Sudanese Parliament who had joined the fight against southern rebels was killed during a battle in eastern Sudan, a newspaper reported Sunday.

The Alwan daily said Dr. Mohamed Osman Hussein, a physician and member of Parliament, was killed during fighting over the town of Shali in Blue Nile State. The town is some 360 miles southeast of Khartoum.

The newspaper quoted Gen. Mohamed Oweida, head of Parliament’s security and defense committee, as saying that Hussein died last week during an offensive ``to drive away the Ethiopian mercenaries from Shali area.″

Sudan maintains that the southern Christian and animist rebels fighting the Muslim government in Khartoum are aided and financed by neighboring Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda. Those countries deny the accusation.

The rebels have fought successive Sudanese governments since 1983 for more autonomy or independence for the south. More than 1.3 million people have died in the fighting and ensuing famines.

Last year the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, was joined by northern opposition groups in trying to topple el-Bashir’s Muslim fundamentalist government. Rebel forces have been attacking both in the country’s south and east.