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Sudan Conscripts Flee Base

June 13, 1998

KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) _ Riots against Sudan’s military training program prompted at least 76 student recruits to flee a base where dozens of conscripts died in April, a military official said Saturday.

The mutiny Friday night in Ailafoon camp, 15 miles southeast of the capital, Khartoum, came in response to a controversial program that may involve deploying students to war zones in southern and eastern Sudan.

Adel Mohammed Osman, supervisor of military service in Khartoum province, told the Sudan News Agency that control was restored after ``some belongings were destroyed and 76 students left the camp.″

The Middle East News Agency, however, reported more than 1,000 conscripts fled and that they burned the camp commander’s car and several tents.

In April, the government said 52 conscripts drowned in the Blue Nile as they fled the camp in a boat that capsized.

But opposition groups say the death toll was at least 129 and that 74 of them were either shot or beaten to death by soldiers when they tried to escape. Many of the casualties were believed to have been forcibly conscripted.

President Omar el-Bashir said in April that Sudan’s government planned to draft 655,000 students over the next three years.

The 1998 conscripts began enrolling in camps last week. An estimated 90,000 high school students are expected to report for service.

Rebels from the predominantly Christian south of the country have been fighting since 1983 for more autonomy from the Islamic north. More than 1.3 million people have died in the war and consequent famines.

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