September 2, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – Forces of the Sudanese government on Friday attacked the residence of the Blue Nile state governor, who is also chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), Malik Agar.
- Malik Agar, head of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) speaks during a joint news conference with SPLM north’s secretary general (Reuters)
According to Yasir Arman, SPLM-N’s secretary-general, Sudan’s army (SAF) launched a military offensive at midnight Friday targeting the SPLM’s Joint Integrated Units under the command of Jondi Suliyman and the house of Agar in the state capital Al-Damazin.
Arman told Sudan Tribune that in the past four days the Sudanese government had deployed reinforcements consisting of one infantry brigade, 12 tanks and 40 armed vehicles into the area.
“This debunks the deceptive ceasefire announced by Al-Bashir in South Kordofan because it was declared in order to prepare for an attack against Al-Damazin,” Arman said.
He further warned that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) would be held accountable for attacking the house of “the elected governor” and the “atrocities they are committing against the civilian population” as well as the SPLM-N’s membership in the two areas.
“We wish to assure SPLM-N’s supporters and members of the general public that Malik Aggar is safe,” Arman said, promising to give more details on the events taking place in the Blue Nile within the next few days.
Arman did not explain what triggered the fighting and there was no confirmation of the attacks from independent sources.
In a phone interview with Bloomberg, Agar said the attack happened after three vehicles used by the SPLA were shot at by Sudanese soldiers while approaching the southern part of Al-Damazin.
“When our forces shot back at them, they just heavily bombarded my house and all sites of the SPLA in the capital,” Agar said.
Sudan official news agency (SUNA) carried statements by SAF saying it has been attacked by the SPLA.
Al-Sawarmi Khaled told SUNA that the SPLA started the attack. He further said they have long expected this move because Agar was mobilising his troops during the past period. He further said the this attack aims to alleviate pressure on SPLA troops under the command of Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu in South Kordofan.
Agar also spoke to SUNA about "skirmishes" between the commander of the joint integrated units and the Sudanese army at the gates of Al-Damazin.
He further confirmed that the fighting is taking place now in all the state between the two forces.
The eruption of war in Blue Nile with heavily armed SPLA units could put the entire Sudan at risk of a full scale war. The government in Khartoum has been engaged in clashes with SPLA forces in South Kordofan since last June.
SPLM-N has blamed the government for fighting in South Kordofan saying that Sudan’s army was seeking to disarm its fighters by force.
Last May, SAF sent a letter to SPLA saying that its forces in the two states must disarm by June 1st or deploy to what is now the new country of South Sudan.
But the SPLA responded by saying that the units are composed of northern soldiers, therefore withdrawing South is not an option.
The Blue Nile’s governor told the New York Times (NYT) at the time that SAF has moved “dangerously close” to the bases of SPLA fighters and that he did not think the southern-allied forces would surrender.
“It’s like putting a cat in a corner,” Agar said. “They will fight.”
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