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Sudan to Close Libya Border, Fears Rebel Attacks

June 28, 2010 (Khartoum) -- Sudan on Monday announced it will close down its borders with Libya, a reference seen as a sign of Khartoum’s growing frustration with Libya over its refusal to expel Darfur's rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader,  Khalil Ibrahim.

The decision comes just one day after Sudan asked Libya to extradite the rebel leader.

Sudan planned to block land crossings from July 1, said a statement on the Interior Ministry's website.

Interior Minister Ibrahim Mahmud Hamid issued the order with the "aim of reorganising" police along the border, according to a statement on the ministry's website.

Khartoum has in the past asked for the expulsion of JEM leader from Libya but Tripoli refused.

The Sudanese intelligence Chief, Mohammed al-Atta, was quote by an unknown source as saying “Ibrahim's extradition was imminent”, but the rebel group denied it.

"Ibrahim is in Libya and will remain there until he completes talks over the future of Darfur and Sudan" with Kadhafi, JEM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam told AFP.

"And even if Sudan said it would close its border with Libya, it doesn't have enough soldiers to do so," the spokesman was quote by AFP as saying.

The Sudanese government said that it wants to protect “traders and travelers” from imminent attacks without giving specifics on who is going to attack Sudan through Sudan-Libya border.

Sudan and Libya have recently been involved in failed negotiations on whether or not the peace process between the government and the rebel movement should move forward. But Khartoum fed up with all the attempts and is trying to influence the Libyan government to expel JEM from its soil, calling it an “outlaw organization”.

"The (border) crossing is under threats and aggression by rebels and outlaws, who rob and impose taxes and fees, levied illegally that often jeopardise the lives and property of others," an Interior Ministry official was quoted as saying on the website.  

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