23 October 2012

Sudan: Rebels Attack South Kordofan Capital Again, Deny Death of Civilians

Photo: Paul Banks/UN Photo
Thousands fleeing fighting in Kadugli seek refuge (file photo).

Khartoum — The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) has disputed allegations by the Sudanese army (SAF) about the death of civilians during a new bout of mortar attack it launched on the capital of South Kordofan State on Tuesday, saying it only targeted positions of government forces.

SAF's spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said that two children died and 8 civilians sustained injuries as a result of the new attack SPLM-N carried out on Kadugli town.

According to Saad, the rebels shelled three security checkpoints on the vicinity of Kadugli. He added that the checkpoints are Um Sha'ran, Al-Ihaimir, and Al-Resaires.

He also claimed that the rebels had shelled civilian residential areas with artillery fire launched from more than 12 kilometers, which led to the death of two children and injury of 8 people.

Al-Sawarmi said in a statement issued on Tuesday that SAF responded to what he described as an indiscriminate action by the SPLM-N to prove itself and uplift the morale of its fighters.

This is the second attack by the SPLM-N inside Kadugli this month. The first attack on 8 led to the death of 6 people, injury of 22 and was condemned by some members of the international community.

SPLM-N's spokesperson Arnu Loddi confirmed to Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that they attacked the three security checkpoints in southeast Kadugli. He however denied SAF's claims that they shelled civilian areas. According to Loddi, whoever was killed or wounded in Tuesday's attack must have been a SAF solider because they only targeted positions of SAF and allied paramilitary groups.

The rebel spokesperson also justified their attacks on urban areas by saying that government forces have been engaged in a daily campaign of aerial bombardment against civilians in the areas SPLM-N controls. This campaign, according to Loddi, already claimed scores of lives including those of children.

He went on to fault those who condemned their attacks on Kadugli accusing members of the international community of failing to condemn the government for its continuous campaign of aerial bombardment.

Arman offers SPLM-N's assistance in creating the buffer zone between Sudan, South Sudan

SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman maintained in a press release issued on Tuesday that their attacks inside Kadugli fall within the category of "self-defense"

According to Arman, the attacks are meant to preempt the summer offensive he said SAF is preparing for. He insisted that the attacks on Kadugli are not part of a military offensive and that their priority is to open corridors to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilian population in their areas. "And for this objective we are ready to cease hostilities in order to enable a humanitarian operation on the condition that Khartoum does not control it" he added.

He said that the tension in Kadugli is a result of what the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum has been doing. "It [the NCP] started the war and its leaders are saying every day and night that they want to reach [SPLM-N stronghold] Kauda and that they forced more than 200,000 civilians from South Kordofan and Blue Nile to flee their homes and cross the borders as refugees into South Sudan and Ethiopia"

Arman argued that the implementation of the security arrangement deal between Sudan and South Sudan on creating a demilitarized buffer zone along their common borders is practically impossible without the participation of his group which, according to him, controls 40 percent of border areas.

He added that the SPLM-N is offering to cooperate with the international community in creating the buffer zone.

Arman concluded that the correct and right way out of the whole crisis is for the NCP leadership to negotiate a peaceful and comprehensive settlement to the conflict in the two regions, and to accept without conditions the opening of humanitarian corridors and cessation of hostilities.

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