SPLA accuses Khartoum of violating Nuba ceasefire

Dec 6 (AFP)

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on Thursday accused the Khartoum government of violating a ceasefire in the central Nuba Mountains.

"Sudanese armed forces launched an offensive on December 3 against the Qurongo region in the Nuba Mountains, violating the ceasefire agreed on November 14 during the visit of US envoy John Danforth, an SPLA spokesman told AFP in a telephone call from Asmara.

"Fighting is continuing between the SPLA and the government," said Yasser Arman, without giving any casualty toll.

"The Khartoum government is throwing down a challenge to the international community and the American special envoy by mounting this offensive," the spokesman said.

Danforth discussed the ceasefire and other confidence-building ideas when he visited Sudan in November on his first peace mission since being appointed pointman for Khartoum by US President George W. Bush in September.

The SPLA controls several regions of the Nuba Mountains where the United Nations has just airdropped 2,000 tons of food aid with approval from the warring parties.

A four-week truce was arranged to allow for the delivery of US humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas. Danforth witnessed the start of the airdrop by the World Food Programme during his Sudan visit.

The SPLA also accused the government of breaking the truce on November 24, although Khartoum had said at the time it was willing to extend the ceasefire, an offer it later withdrew.

Earlier last month, the United States criticised the Sudanese government for bombing targets in the south and disrupting UN food distribution operations, and called on Khartoum to halt its raids.