Sudan army confirms heavy clashes in South Kordofan

October 31, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The Sudanese government on Monday acknowledged that deadly fighting broke out between its army and rebels from the Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) in the border state of South Kordofan.

Over the last few days the SPLM-N has issued statements claiming that its forces have made significant advances in the state and closing on the capital town of Kadugli.

But a South Kordofan governor speaking to reporters at a press conference over the phone denied rebel claims, saying that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) along with units from the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) repulsed SPLM-N attacks and inflicted heavy losses on them.

"Several hundred members of the movement were killed this day in an assault on the city of Teludi (east of the state capital) that was repelled by the armed forces," Governor Ahmed Haroun said.

Haroun said the attack shows the “desperation” of SPLM-N and arbitrary decision making within the rebel movement. He added that move on Teludi aimed at looting citizens’ properties and particularly food products to meet their needs.

The governor also accused SPLM-N of seeking to displace Teludi’s residents. He reiterated the Khartoum accusations that the rebel movement is getting support from the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS), adding that the SPLM-N units which launched the attack this morning on Teludi came from the Unity state in Sudan’s southern neighbor.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that battles started in the oil-rich state on Sunday with SAF launching aerial attacks on SPLM-N units which controlled areas as close as 30 kilometers from Kadugli.

The SAF spokesperson Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, said Teludi‘s assault was carried out by 700 rebel fighters and 12 officers.

"The armed forces waited for the invaders to arrive on three fronts with equipment and on several vehicles, but in an hour the armed forces and popular defense forces beat back the attack, causing heavy losses," the military spokesperson said.

On Saturday SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Netglu said that their forces took over Khour al-Afan which is 5 km south of Kadugli and seized one tank among other weapons. He also claimed that SAF units retreated back to Kadugli after suffering the loss of 27 soldiers.

But SAF spokesperson described this as “illogical” due to the distance between SPLM-N positions and Kadugli. He also said that the army has been monitoring recruitment efforts by SPLM-N in South Sudan’s Unity state.

“The role of South Sudan in South Kordofan’s war is not new through providing training and using SPLM [southern] cadres in these activities," Colonel Sa’ad said.

South Kordofan has been the scene of fighting since last June which followed governmental elections in which incumbent governor Haroun was declared winner in his race against his SPLM candidate Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, who was the deputy governor.

The fighting, apparently triggered by the army’s insistence on disarming the opposition SPLM-N, spilled into nearby Blue Nile state as the government moved to assert its authority within its new borders.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir rejected a framework agreement brokered by the African Union signed by his aide and insisted that SAF crush the rebellion and bring al-Hilu to justice.

Khartoum is engaged in military operations against rebel movements in three separate regions along Sudan’s volatile border with the south, which gained full independence on 9 July.

It has accused groups in those territories of trying to spread chaos along the border, while rights groups have accused Khartoum of trying to stamp out remaining opposition on its side of the border.


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