Home | News    Sunday 21 May 2017

Sudanese army, SLM-MM in fierce fighting in Darfur

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May 20, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF) and the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi have exchanged accusations over renewed fighting in North and East Darfur.

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Rebels of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), loyal to leader Minni Minnawi (AFP)

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Saturday, SAF’s spokesperson Ahmed Khalifa al-Shami pointed out that the armed forces and the security services have been closely monitoring the movements of armed groups “mercenaries” in South Sudan and Libya.

He said these rebel groups have been preparing to “abort peace and stability that have been achieved across Sudan and particularly in Darfur states”, pointing that clashes are still ongoing.

“The two groups entered North and East Darfur states from Libya and South Sudan simultaneously but the armed forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have responded to them and clashes are still ongoing,” he said.

A reliable military source in East Darfur told Sudan Tribune that a fierce battle occurred between a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-MM) led by Minni Minnawi and government forces in the Eshairaya area, some 50 kilometres south-west of Ed-Daein, East Darfur capital.

He added the clashes caused panic among residents of Asalaya locality, saying the government troops responded to a faction that entered from South Sudan and was seeking to reach Jebel Marra.

“The government troops forced the rebels to retreat and are still chasing them,” he said.

The same source revealed that the government forces had inflicted heavy losses on the rebels, saying 25 rebels have been killed and at least 17 arrested.

He added that a number of four-wheel drive vehicles have been seized from the rebels, saying 5 government troops have been killed and 7 others injured and were transferred to Ed-Daein Hospital.

Meanwhile, SLM-MM military spokesperson Ahmed Hussein Mustafa said their forces have been attacked inside areas under the movement’s control in North Darfur, describing the attack as “violation of the ceasefire”.

“In a clear violation of the ceasefire from the government side, an administrative patrol of the SLM-MM has been intercepted by the government troops and the latter initiated the shooting,” he said.

Mustafa added their forces responded to the government attack and inflicted heavy losses on them, saying the attackers fled the scene leaving behind hundreds of dead and wounded.

Last January President Omer al-Bashir extended the unilateral cessation of hostilities in war zones for six months. Also, SLM-MM, and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in May extended for six months the unilateral ceasefire in Darfur.

SLM-MM has recently accused the government of preparing to launch a large attack against its areas, saying it dispatched 150 vehicles loaded with heavy weapons to areas under its control in North Darfur including Wadi Maghrib, Donky Ba’ashim, Hoash, Khaim and Majour.

Last week, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo warned those who he called “mercenaries” against seeking to enter Sudan from Libya, hinting at attempts by rebel movements to enter Darfur after acquiring vehicles from Libya.

On 12 April, the Sudanese army declared Darfur a region free of rebellion following the capture of Srounq area, the last SLM-AW led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nour stronghold in Jebel Marra. However, the army continued for several months to carry out attacks on rebel pockets in the mountainous area.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003. UN agencies estimate that over 300,000 people were killed in the conflict and over 2.5 million were displaced.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the DDPD by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident JEM joined the DDPD in April 2013.

JEM and SLM-MM have engaged in peace talks with the government under the auspices of the African Union.

SLM-AW, however, is not part of the African Union-mediated peace talks. The rebel group rejects negotiating a peace agreement with Khartoum government unless the government militias are disarmed and displaced civilians return to their original areas.

CALL FOR CONDEMNATION

Meanwhile, Sudan’s foreign ministry has demanded ambassadors of Western countries in Khartoum to denounce the Darfur armed movements in the wake of renewed fighting between the rebels and government army.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Saturday, foreign ministry spokesperson Gharib Allah Khidir said foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour has held separate meetings with the envoys of the permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), ambassadors of the Sudan Troika countries and the European Union envoy to Khartoum.

He said Ghandour told the Western diplomats that “Sudan’s rebel movements which are present in Libya and South Sudan have moved across the borders to abort peace and stability that has been achieved in Darfur and acknowledged by the UNSC and the African Union Peace and Security Council.”

Sudan’s top diplomat said the rebels move aims to drag the government to military confrontation so as to abort the unilateral cessation of hostilities declared by president Omer al-Bashir.

He demanded the Western envoys to report the rebel’s move to their respective governments immediately, calling on the international community to denounce what he described as “hostile attack”.

Ghandour stressed the Sudanese government will respond to the attack and defend the country until achieving the comprehensive peace.

(ST)

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Kind regards,

The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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