Sudan forces burn 14 villages in Nuba mountains, rebels claim

May 28, 2001 (AFP)

Sudanese government forces have burnt down 14 villages in the Nuba mountain region destroying 5,000 homes, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) claimed Monday in a statement faxed to AFP in Cairo.

SPLA spokesman Yasser Arman said that Khartoum had resorted to a "burnt land policy" after failing to rout rebels from fortified positions in the mountainous region in central Sudan during a week of fighting.

The SPLA, based in the mainly animist and Christian south, has been fighting a civil war against Khartoum governments since 1983 when Islamic law was first imposed on the whole country.

The Sudanese army claimed Saturday that it had retaken nine localities from the SPLA in the Nuba Moutains after inflicting heavy casualties on the rebels.

The army added it had freed civilians whom, it claimed, the rebels had used as "human shields."

Arman, who accused the government of carrying out "ethnic cleansing" against the Nuba people, did not mention any SPLA casualties in his statement.

The SPLA said its forces had also wiped out a government army unit in the Blue Nile region in eastern Sudan during a day-long battle on Friday, after having earlier announced that it had killed 300 government troops and downed a helicopter there.

Arman did not specify how many people had been killed in the new battle, but said the government had suffered "heavy material and human losses."

For its part, the government said Thursday it had inflicted heavy losses on rebel forces in the area and denied one of its helicopters had been shot down by rebel forces.