Sudan rebels say govt attacking Nuba mountains

Dec 6 (Reuters)

Sudanese rebels accused the government on Thursday of launching a major military assault on the central Nuba mountains in violation of a four week ceasefire to allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn region.

The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said the Khartoum government had launched a serious attack on the Nuba region on December 3.

"The government launched a very big military offensive on the third this month and it is still continuing," SPLA spokesman George Garang said in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

"We have not yet received details of the casualties and destruction because the fighting is still going on." There was no independent confirmation of the SPLA's claims.

Under pressure from the United States, the two sides had agreed to stop hostilities in the Nuba region until December 9, to allow the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to air drop food to thousands of people displaced by war.

A WFP spokeswoman in Nairobi said the organisation was not aware of any renewed conflict in Nuba, but was looking into the allegations. WFP airdrops were concluded earlier this week, but some staff remained in Nuba to finish an assessment of what aid was still required.

The government of Sudan declared a holy war on Nuba in 1992. The mountainous region is allied with the southern rebels, who want more autonomy from the Islamic government in the north for the mainly Christian or animist south. Sudan's 18 year civil war has killed an estimated two million people and displaced millions more.