Dozens of people have been killed Thursday in clashes that erupted between troops and rebels in Sudan’s war-torn state of South Kordofan, said UN and rebel sources.
Report says rebels from the SPLM-North, Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement, attacked a checkpoint in the Kurgul area, around 35 kilometres south of Deleng, killing 12 Sudanese soldiers.
Two private buses and a car belonging to an international NGO were caught in the crossfire, in which a Sudanese staff member was killed and his driver seriously wounded.
Another SPLM source said on Thursday that the Sudanese air force had bombed a village near the town of Talodi, where clashes were reported earlier this week, and that a local leader had been killed.
“The village does not have any military presence, and the raid seems to have been carried out because the villagers refused to join the Popular Defence Force,” Gamar Delman said, referring to the feared militia that is now part of the Sudanese army.
Fighting between the Sudanese army and SPLM/A militiamen in South Kordofan broke out in June, just one month before the independence of South Sudan.
The SPLM/A fought with the former rebel army of the south during their decades-long war with Khartoum.
Earlier, the rebels and the army reported heavy fighting in the state’s eastern Rashad district, with both claiming to have killed dozens on the opposing side.
A spokesman for the SPLM-North said they had killed around 60 soldiers in the early-morning attack on an army position.
Rebel spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi said, “The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, SPLA, launched a heavy attack in the Rashad area early this morning. They killed 60 Sudan Armed Forces, SAF, troops and destroyed 13 mounted land cruisers. A number of rebels had also been killed.”
The commissioner of Rashad district, Khaled Mukhtar, confirmed that the SPLA had launched a surprise attack on the army, near the border with South Sudan. He said the rebels had suffered heavy losses.
According to Mukhtar, “More than 30 of them were killed, among them an officer, and two fighters were taken prisoner,” and the army had also captured a large amount of weapons.
Khartoum has sought to reassert its authority within its new borders since South Sudan’s recognition as the world’s newest country on July 9, moving to disarm troops outside its control.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where a similar conflict broke out on September 2, are located just north of Sudan’s new international border.
But they both have large numbers of SPLM-North supporters and troops, who have historic political ties to Khartoum’s former civil war enemies, now the ruling party in Juba.
Earlier this week, the UN human rights envoy for Sudan warned that the ongoing violence in the border region could jeopardize peace between north and south.
Mohamed Chande Othman told the UN Human Rights Council, “Sudan and South Sudan cannot be at peace if the border areas between the two countries remain mired in armed conflict.”
Gamar Dalman said in a press release that a SAF airplane had dropped three bombs on Wirni village in Talodi locality and another bomb on the house of the village’s chief Abdul Rahman Al-Mahdi who died as a result.