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32 people, including high ranking Sudanese officials, killed in S. Kordofan plane crash

August 19, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — 32 people, including a minister, two state ministers, a politician and military officials were killed when their Russian plane crashed in Talodi, South Kordofan’s third-largest town, on Sunday.

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Sudanese president Omer Al-Bashir (2th from the left) receives condolences upon the death of 26 government officials and politician in Talodi, South Kordofan, after the crash of their plane on 19 August 2012 (SUNA)

Several high ranking delegations were dispatched to celebrate the Eid al-Fitr festival with Sudanese troops in the two troubled states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan where the army fight against a rebellion led by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N).

Among the officials killed in the crash there was Ghazi Al-Sadiq, minister of religious affairs, Mahjoub Abdel-Rahim Toutou, state-minister for youth and sports, and Eissa Daif-Allah, state-minister for tourism.

The leader of the Justice Party, Makki Ali Blayel, was also numbered among the dead, he recently supported the government in its war against the SPLM-N rebels.

The list of the victims released by SUNA (the official national news agency) includes several military personnel, among them: Salah Ismail, a major general of the Sudanese Air Force; Ahmed Musa Ahmed, a police major general; Ahmed Al-Tayeb Abou Groon, an influent major general from the National Intelligence and Security Services; and Luqman Omer, a second commander of the Popular Defence Forces.

The Sudanese Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement saying the crashed plane was an Antonov AN-26 belonging to Alfa Aviation, a Sudanese private operator.

The plane exploded in the mountains surrounding Talodi airport when it was landing, the statement further said.

Sudanese officials denied that the plane crashed because of military activities.

The plane went down in the mountains because of bad weather said Ahmed Balal Osman, culture and information minister as the rainy season there continues till the end of September.

SPLM-N spokesperson Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told the AFP they had no relation with the incident pointing out, "It is a government area."

The SPLM-N and its allied rebel groups attempted several times to take control of Talodi, which near the common border with the South Sudan but the government army repelled their attacks.

Another delegation, led by Sudanese presidential assistant Abdel-Rahman Sadiq Al-Mahdi, was in Kadugli, South Kordofan state’s capital; where he performed Eid Al-Fitr prayer and visited the 14th Infantry Division of the Sudanese army.

In a speech he made at Kadugli mosque and attended by local leaders, Al-Mahdi said that the government would not sign any agreement with the SPLM-N rebels without consulting them.

Minister Ahmed Balal, led another delegation to the Blue Nile state, where he visited the Sudanese troops in Kurmuk, near the Ethiopian border.

In Khartoum President Omer Al-Bashir appeared affected by the loss of his minister and other officials. Minister Ghazi Al-Sadiq was in Saudi Arabia with him to attend a meeting of Islamic Cooperation Organisation before flying to Talodi.

Flanked by his deputies, Ali Osman Taha and Al-Haj Adam Youssef, he received condolences from government officials, political leaders, members of parliaments, diplomatic corps and civil society groups.

Speaking on the occasion, Bashir reiterated his government’s commitment "to move forward on the path of martyrs" to achieve peace and stability throughout the country.

The Sudanese government accepted an initiative to deliver humanitarian assistance to the affected civilians in the rebel held areas. Khartoum and SPLM-N also signed an agreement committing themselves to cooperate with UN agencies and the African and Arab observers.

The two parties are expected to resume political talks next week.

(ST)