May 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s foreign ministry told legislators on Tuesday that armed Sudanese groups are involved in the South Sudanese conflict, adding that thousands of its nationals were killed after the recapture of Unity state Bentiu last month.
- Injured civilians are treated at the UNMISS base in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity state (Photo: UN/Toby Lanzer)
Reports by UN agencies and independent rights groups say that over two hundred Sudanese were killed in Bentiu by the rebel forces loyal to the former vice-president Riek Machar when by retook the control of the town.
The SPLM-In-Opposition accused the Sudanese rebels particularly Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of attacking them in Bentiu with the government forces. Also officials in Juba said Sudanese militiamen are fighting besides Machar’s forces.
Briefing the lawmakers about the situation of Sudanese nationals in South Sudan, state minister at the foreign ministry, Kamal Eddin Ismail, said the involvement of Sudanese armed groups in the intra South Sudanese conflict negatively affected the ordinary people who are working there.
Ismail also reiterated the government statement about the use of JEM fighters by the South Sudanese government, saying that their involvement confirms what Khartoum was always saying about their links with Juba.
The UN Mission in South Sudan mentioned in a report released on 8 May the presence of JEM fighters besides the SPLA troops in Bentiu. South Sudanese defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk strongly denied these allegations.
Regarding the claims of the South Sudanese government about the participation of Sudanese militiamen in the fighting besides the SPLM-In-Opposition, the state minister confirmed that saying it is a group of Misseriya fighters linked to Taban Deng, head of rebel negotiating team and former governor of the Unity state.
The Shahama group was part of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) but when the rebellion erupted last December they took the side of the rebels, he said.
“Therefore, what happened in Bentiu appears to be part of a settling of scores between these groups that likely know each other very well,” he stressed.
The former governor of Unity state was accused of supporting the Sudanese rebel groups and harbouring them near Bentiu.
South Sudanese officials say that the presence of Sudanese militiamen in the rebel ranks proves Khartoum support to the rebels.
Observers say the dynamics of the conflict in Sudan’s Two Areas and the five-month conflict in South Sudan revive old civil war relations between different groups from both sides.
“SRF’s struggles against the GoS are partly a product of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s (CPA) vague resolutions regarding South Kordofan and Blue Nile, while the South Sudanese civil war reactivates divisions between the SPLA and the GoS-backed South Sudan Defence Forces that largely controlled the Greater Upper Nile region during the second civil war,” says Small Arms Survey group in a recent update on the border dispute between the two country.
Ismail told the legislators that they consider the participation of the Sudanese rebels in the South Sudanese fighting as “a threat to the national security”.
He also said they have unofficial statistics saying that more than 3000 Sudanese were killed, in Bentiu 100 wounded and 1000 missed.
He disclosed they received a report from the Sudanese embassy in Juba saying there are currently 349 Sudanese in Bentiu, adding they prepare to evacuate those who want quit the area.