Sudan army says attacked by SPLA in South Kordofan

6 June, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Monday changed its earlier version about the events that took place in South Kordofan over the weekend saying that it clashed with the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA).

SAF spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad was quoted by Sudan news agency (SUNA) as saying that on Sunday SPLA units carried a wide-scale attack in Umm Dorain about 12km southeast of South Kordofan’s capital state of Kadugli.

The military official said that the SAF company in the area "bravely carried out their duties" but were overwhelmed by a large influx of SPLA forces and were thus forced to withdraw to other positions.

The fighting led to one death and seven injuries from the SAF side, Sa’ad revealed.

"SAF reserves its full right to respond to that in the suitable time and place," he said.

Yesterday the Sudanese army downplayed reports of clashes in the state saying it was an isolated incident caused by one soldier but declined to place blame on any side.

Multiple sources told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that SAF moved tanks south from El-Obeid and stationed them at Kadugli airport and near the compound of the UN’s World Food Program (WFP). They also established checkpoints on the main road heading north from Kadugli airport.

SAF tanks and heavy artillery were stationed in and around the state’s main town of Kadugli while clashes have been reported in surrounding villages, sources added.

There were widespread fears that SAF was moving to enforce the ultimatum it issued last month to SPLA to move out of the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. The SPLM rejected the deadline saying units in the border regions consist of Northern soldiers.

A UN official who spoke to Sudan tribune on condition of anonymity said that SPLA forces took over a police station in Kadugli while others moved to control a neighborhood in the city where former deputy governor Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu resides.

In early May the National Congress Party (NCP), which governs North Sudan, beat the SPLM in controversial state elections to decide the state governor and the makeup of South Kordofan’s legislative assembly. Incumbent NCP governor, Ahmed Haroun was reinstated in office after defeating his deputy, the SPLM candidate Al-Hilu. International monitors endorsed the result despite claims of fraud by SPLM.

The SPLM has strong support in the northern border state’s of South Kordofan and Blue Nile as many people from the areas joined the SPLA/M in fighting Khartoum during Sudan’s second North-South’ civil war.

However with South Sudan due to secede in July after a referendum earlier this year both states will remain north of the border and governed by the NCP.

In late May the SAF moved to take over the neighboring disputed region of Abyei in retaliation to an SPLA attack on one of its conveys near the oil-rich district while being escorted by UN peacekeepers.

The North has rejected demands by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to withdraw and president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir declared that Abyei belongs to the North.


On Monday heavy shooting took place in Kadugli close to the residence of South Kordofan governor.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune by phone that gunshots can be heard all over Kadugli and stressing that the town is in a very tense situation following clashes that erupted on Sunday and continued today.

They added that SPLA soldiers came down unexpectedly from nearby mountains and started shooting on SAF positions which prompted an intense exchange of fire.

The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) confirmed the clashes today.

"The fighting appears to be between elements from the SAF and SPLA," said Kouider Zerrouk, a spokesman for UNMIS was cited as saying by Agence France Presse (AFP).

The Secretary general of SPLM in the North Yasir Arman said in a press release that the incidents remain "isolated" and that dialogue is underway to resolve it. He said that the presidency created a joint NCP-SPLM delegation, SAF and security organs which arrived in Kadugli to meet with officials from both sides in a bid to diffuse tensions.

Arman said that the delegation established a committee to review the situation and come up with solutions that are acceptable to both sides. He added that Sudan’s 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha was in contact with the president of South Sudan Salva Kiir to contain the issue.

But On Tuesday heavy fighting was reported to have resumed in Kadugli.

As part of the 2005 peace deal that ended the conflict, and granted South Sudan the right to self determination, the two states were accorded ’popular consultations’ to consider whether the Comprehensive Peace Agreement addressed their grievances and propose what their future relationship with Khartoum might look like.

The much delayed processes are yet to be completed despite there being only a little over a month until the official end of the peace deal and South Sudan’s independence.


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