Twenty Years Ago Today: All of this has happened before. And all of it will happen again.

_1062358_sudan300 Twenty years ago today, five gunmen stormed into the Ansar Al-Sunna mosque on the outskirts of Omdurman, Sudan, and opened fire upon the worshippers. When the guns fell silent, there were 19 dead and 26 injured.

Ansar Al-Sunna (not to be confused with the Iraqi insurgents that have a similar name) are an Islamic sect that prefers pacifism to violence. The gunmen were adherents of the Takfir wal-Hijra, a group that positively loves violence. They especially delight in using it to impose sharia law on anyone and everyone, and were unhappy that Ansar Al-Sunna disagreed with this.

This isn't the most appalling thing, though. The most appalling thing is what I discovered through inconsistencies in the reports of the incident: a confusion that had arisen because the same thing happened again six years later.

On December 8th, 2000, a lone gunman opened fire in the mosque as people were praying, killing 20 people and wounding 33. He did this for exactly the same reason as six years previously (if we can dignify any of this with the word 'reason'). The Sudanese president then cracked down on Takfir wal-Hijra, and tightened security laws so that people could be held for up to six months just on suspicion - though the killings may have been more of an excuse than anything else.

1994 is looking to be a bloody year. And this is not the last massacre we'll see this week.