June 7, 2011 (JUBA)- At least 17 soldiers have been killed and several others have sustained injuries in clashes between north Sudan army and the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan state, according to an SPLM official.
- A military truck passes by as members of the Kenana Arab tribe perform a traditional dance after ballot boxes were sealed on the last day of voting, at Galayat locality in South Kordofan State May 4, 2011. (Reuters)
Arnu Yusuf, the SPLM’s secretary general for information and communication in South Kordofan State, on Tuesday told Sudan Tribune that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of north Sudan carried out an attack on their premises and a house belonging to the deputy chairperson of the SPLM’s northern sector, Abdel Aziz Adam El-Hilu.
“The Sudan Armed Forces and their police staged an attack directed at our premises today. They wanted to forcefully disarm soldiers guarding our premises,” said Yusuf.
He went on to claim that 14 members of SAF and three armed guards from the SPLA, the SPLM’s military wing, were killed in the clashes.
“We have lost three comrades. Two others sustained injuries and the fighting is continuing”, says Yusuf, adding that they are determined to defend themselves.
The SPLM official denied that the fighting which took place today was initiated by armed elements associated with the SPLM.
“Our people did not initiate any fighting. The Sudan Armed Forces launched a direct attack on our premises as part of the offensive operation. They started attacking villages on Sunday through Monday without success. They lost in Talodi and in Miri. They also lost the fight in Umm Dorien, so they decided to resume it in town this morning”, said Yusuf, who declined to indicate his whereabouts.
Although South Kordofan is part of north Sudan, it has strong ties with the South and their struggle for independence. Ahmed Haroun of the north Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party was declared winner of the state’s gubernatorial election in May, an outcome which the SPLM strongly disputes, citing claims of vote rigging.
Fighting in the flashpoint state erupted on Sunday, 5 June, as SAF moved into the center of Kadugli town following an attack by unidentified gunmen on a police station in the area.
Reliable sources, who wish to retain their anonymity, have informed Sudan Tribune that shootings took place at Kadugli airport on Tuesday morning and that the conflict in Kadugli itself involves small arms and rocket propelled grenades. The sources also suggested that the UN Refugee Agency and the World Food Program buildings have been under fire.
The UN office in Kadugli confirmed eruption of a heavy fighting in Kadugli town on Tuesday.
Kouider Zerrouk, the spokesperson of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) said "UNMIS is concerned about the ongoing fighting between the SAF and the SPLA and the deteriorating security situation in Kadugli."
The UN official cited a different death toll, saying that only six dead bodies were received in the local police hospital, four of whom were policemen and two civilians.
Meanwhile, another UNMIS spokesperson, Hua Jiang, told reporters that “about 3,000 people [are] taking refuge at the Kadugli police hospital".
Musa Kaka, another senior member of the SPLM in the area, in an interview with the Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that the people of the Nuba Mountains would not be the first to initiate the fight, but added that they would not allow themselves to be slaughtered “like chickens” and that they had a right to defend themselves.
“Nobody in the Nuba Mountains had intention to fight even though they were denied their rights. Our people are peace-loving people. The people of Nuba Mountains are well known for peace but they cannot allow themselves now to be slaughtered like chickens when they have all rights to defense themselves”, said Kaka.
“We know our people were slaughtered in thousands during war because we went to the bush with the south to fight against the central which did not want us to live in areas and to have right to equal treatment. It was not our choice to be born as black and in the Nuba Mountains. It was the decision of the God and so we cannot change decision of the creator. We will be here and will remain Nuba Mountains. We will stay in our land dead or alive come what may," he said.
He called on sons and daughters of Nuba Mountains in the SAF not to kill their own people.
“I call our people in the government of Khartoum, whether as politicians or in the military, not to accept politics of divide and rule in order to kill our people […] Let us resolve our difference and unite one and the same people”, he appealed.
South Kordofan, which lies on the fault lines between north Sudan and the soon-to-be independent south Sudan, is one of the country’s heavily militarized regions. It saw fierce fighting during the years of Sudan’s north-south civil wars which ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.