10 September 2012

Sudan: SPLM-N Denies Sudan Army's Claims of 'Killing 18' in South Kordofan Fresh Clashes

Nairobi — The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army North (SPLM/A-N) has denied the occurrence of any clashes with the Sudanese army (SAF) which claimed killing 18 of its members in an attack launched on Monday.

SAF's official spokesperson, Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad, said in a press release published by the website of the Sudanese ministry of defense on that the attack targeted SPLM/A-N positions in Jibal Daloka area to the south of the state's capital Kadugli on Monday.

Al-Sawarmi said that the attack was followed by a mopping-up operation that extended to Jibal Kalo Lo area further south. He added that SAF forces killed 18 SPLM/A-N fighters, injured many others and seized a great amount of arms and ammunition.

He admitted, however, that a number of SAF soldiers were killed and injured but he did not specify how many.

SAF and SPLM/A-N both confirmed that they clashed on Thursday, 6 August, around the village of Hagar Al-Dom, which lies 30 kilometers northeast of Kadugli, but they gave different accounts of who won the battle.

While SPLM/A-North claimed it captured the village and inflicted heavy losses in lives and equipments on government forces, SAF said it repulsed the attack killing 77 rebel fighters.

But the SPLM/A-N responded to SAF claims on Tuesday by saying that no clashes occurred and accusing SAF of trying to sugarcoat its defeat in the last confrontation.

SPLM/A-N spokesperson Arnu Loddi told Sudan Tribune via the phone that SAF was merely trying to create media confusion in order to lessen its embarrassment over the defeat SPLM/A-N inflicted on their forces during Thursday clashes.

The surge of military confrontations coincided with the beginning of another round of indirect political negotiations between the SPLM/A-N and the government under African Union (AU) mediation in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Sudan charged that the SPLM/A-N has increased its military activities in the eastern part of the state in order to strengthen its hand on the negotiations which collapsed on Monday due to burgeoning mistrust between the two sides who continue to trade accusations of obstructing the implementation of an agreement they signed on 4 August to allow humanitarian operations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile on the terms of a tripartite initiative proposed by the AU, the United Nations and the Arab League.

The failure of the talks further dampened prospects for a settlement to the one year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Separately, the rebel Justice and Liberation Movement (JEM) of Sudan's western region of Darfur said in a press release it sent to Sudan Tribune on Monday that their forces clashes with SAF on Friday, 17 September, in Al-Kilo 50 area which lies between Al-Dabib and Al-Mujald areas of South Kordofan State.

The rebel group claimed that their forces killed and injured dozens of SAF soldiers, and commandeered 11 vehicles and destroyed 17 others. SAF did not speak of any clashes with JEM this week.

JEM and two other Darfur rebel groups forged an alliance with SPLM/A-N in November last year to coordinate military efforts in order to topple the government in Khartoum.

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