December 1, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – More than a dozen Islamist extremists were killed on Friday following a fierce gun battle with Sudanese security forces at a camp that was discovered in the east of the country, multiple sources told Sudan Tribune.
- FILE - Four Sudanese convicts lift their handcuffs as they are escorted out of the courtroom in the capital Khartoum, June 24, 2009. The four men were condemned to hang for killing a U.S. aid official and his driver in Khartoum, and a fifth was sentenced to two years in prison (REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
The incident goes back to more than a month ago when unknown gunmen attacked a camp known as Galgu belonging to Wildlife Guards in Al-Dandar region in Southeast Sudan.
The attackers evicted the guards and seized a cannon that was used to destroy a telecommunication tower in the area.
Initially the authorities suspected that this was the work of hunters who are active in the region but further investigations revealed the existence of a training camp used by Islamist extremists who are believed to be bound for Mali and Somalia.
Another source described the camp as being "fully equipped" housing a "large number" of trainees as well as communication devices and computers.
This discovery of the camp was linked to a radical cell Sudanese authorities were monitoring in Khartoum few weeks prior to that but abruptly dropped off the radar and its members were never found.
At this point it as decided to storm the camp and enforcements were sent to the area to dismantle it and arrest its members.
An eyewitness described a convoy of at least a 20 government vehicles involved in the gun battle that ensued and lasted from 12 in the afternoon till 8 at night indicating heavy resistance.
The force killed 13 of the extremists, arrested one but others managed to flee. On the government side one of the wildlife guards was seriously injured and later passed away while two others sustained injuries.
There has been a significant increase in activities of Islamic extremist cells in Sudan over the years. In 2007, Sudanese authorities said that they have foiled a plot to blow up several Western embassies as well as UN building.
The year after that a an American USAID employee and his driver were killed in Khartoum by four men who belong to the Islamic militant group known as Ansar al-Tawhid which claimed responsibility for the killing.
In 2009 a Sudanese court ordered all of them hanged to death after finding them guilty of murdering the two men. But the convicts managed to escape later from the maximum security facility they were held in raising many questions about whether they received insider help.
Last year the family of one of the escapees said he was killed in Somalia without giving details.
Last month security sources in Mali said that foreign jihadists from countries such as Algeria and Sudan have arrived in north of the country to support armed Islamist groups who are imposing an increasingly brutal version of Shar’ia law in the vast northern areas under their control.
Sudan has welcomed Bin Laden in the 1990’s but expelled him in 1996 under intense US pressure. Since 2001 the Sudanese intelligence cooperated with the US law enforcement agencies to track down suspected terrorists in East Africa.
The US added Sudan to its state terror list in 1993, accusing Khartoum of harboring local and international militants but as a result of counter terrorism cooperation promised to de-list it pending political settlement to civil conflicts in the country.