AU condemns attacks in Sudan's N. Kordofan, S. Kordofan states

Addis Ababa
April 29, 2013 (Sudan Tribune)

The chairperson of the African Union (AU), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has strongly condemned the armed attacks recently carried out in Um Rawaba town in North Kordofan state, as well as various other areas in South Kordofan.

Rebels from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) reportedly launched the surprise attack on Saturday, storming the major town which lies around 500 kilometres south of the capital Khartoum, utilising 150 vehicles and killing nine policemen, including a lieutenant, before later withdrawing the same day.

The attack also resulted in a number of serious casualties, with rebels destroying the communications tower and electricity station in Um Rawaba, as well as looting civilian property and gas stations.

Established in November 2011, the SRF is an alliance between Sudanese factions opposed to the Khartoum government led by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir, including the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is currently leading an insurgency in Sudan's border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

The alliance brings together the two main factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), as well as the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the other major rebel group active in Darfur.

The attack came as the SPLM-N and the Sudanese government launched the first round of direct talks – their first since 2011 - in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The AU said in a statement on Monday that the incidents were an unfortunate setback, particularly given the timing of the attacks.

Negotiations between Sudan and the SPLM-N have been adjourned until next month without success in addressing grievances or bridging the wide gap that remains between the two sides.

However, Dlamini-Zuma has appealed to all parties involved in the conflict to exercise maximum restraint and allow the political leadership to continue direct talks, with a view to reaching a comprehensive resolution to the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

She also urged the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N to remain committed to the direct talks, which are being facilitated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and the chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in the interests of peace, security and the well-being of the Sudanese people.

Sudan has been scathing of the brazen attack led by the SRF, describing it as an act of aggression designed to destroy infrastructure and strip the nation of its capabilities.

In comments made on Sunday, the foreign ministry accused the SPLM-N and the SRF as being the biggest threat to peace, security and the humanitarian situation in the restive states of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur.

Um Rawaba, with a population of several thousand, is about 100 kilometres east of the state capital El Obeid, home to a military airbase.

According to the sources, SRF descended on the city from three directions, forcing authorities to shut down the main highway which connects Khartoum to the White Nile and North Kordofan states.

Eyewitnesses said Sudanese warplanes hovered over the city for hours but did not carry out any bombings.

Further attacks on four towns near the South Kordofan capital, Kadugli were also claimed by the by the SPLM-N, which it said were carried out in retaliation for the killing of children, the displacement of civilians and looting of property by Sudanese forces.


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