30 July 2012

Sudan 'Kills Three' in Alleged Blue Nile Air Attacks

Khartoum — Three civilians have been killed and dozens injured in a series of airstrikes conducted by the Sudanese army in the border regions of Blue Nile, the region's rebels said on Monday.

According to Arnu Loddi, the spokesman of the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which has been fighting the government in the region since last year, the attacks launched on Friday, 27 July, and Saturday, 28 July, had targeted Ora-Balila, Magaf and Wadaka Nellei villages in the states, killing three civilians and injuring about 20 in total.

Attempts by Sudan Tribune to reach the spokesperson of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) for comments were not successful.

The report comes as the government and the SPLM-N started, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa this week, first indirect negotiations under African Union (AU) mediation to discuss ways of allowing humanitarian assistance to the conflict-affected population in Blue Nile and South Kordofan after both sides agreed to a United Nations (UN), AU and an Arab League's initiative in this regard.

These are the first talks between the two parties since the government disavowed a deal it signed with the SPLM-N in June last year following the eruption of the armed conflict between the two sides in South Kordofan before it spread to Blue Nile two months later.

Since then, Khartoum has been blocking humanitarian assistance from reaching SPLM-N controlled areas, citing concerns that any aid might be used by the rebels.

But the UN Security Council (UNSC) ordered Sudan in May as part of a resolution concerning its conflict with South Sudan to "cooperate" with the SPLM-N in order to find a peaceful settlement to the conflict in the two regions.

The UNSC warned to impose non-military sanctions if provisions of its resolution are not met before 2 August but sources close to the talks say this is unlikely in light of the hitherto irreconcilable positions of the two sides especially on political and security issues.

The UN says about 200,000 refugees have fled the dire humanitarian situation in the two states into neighboring Ethiopia and South Sudan.

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