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Sudan clears Juba of aiding SRF offensive, says key SPLM-N commander is likely dead

April 29, 2013 (KHARTOUM) –The spokesperson of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), Colonel al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad, says that Khartoum has no evidence linking South Sudan to the rebels’ attack on the North Kordofan town of Um Rawaba.

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SPLM-N’s top military commander, Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu (ST)

“We cannot accuse the South [Sudanese] of supporting the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) because we have no proof”, Col. Sa’ad said in statements to privately-owned Blue Nile TV on Monday.

“South Sudan has no links to the recent assault on Um Rawaba”, he added.

The remarks highlight the dramatic improvement in ties between Khartoum and Juba in the wake of cooperation agreements that were signed last year but have only started getting implemented over the last two months.

Sudan has routinely accused Juba of backing SRF and particularly the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which fought alongside the mainstream SPLM throughout the north-south civil war.

South Sudan dismissed those allegations saying they had severed ties with SPLM-N a long time ago. The rebel group is fighting SAF in the border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

In a related issue, the Sudanese information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman, claimed that SPLM-N’s top military commander, Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, was killed by a rocket that targeted a convoy of six vehicles he was in during SRF’s recent offensive in North and South Kordofan.

But a statement by SPLM-N deputy chairman in South Kordofan Adam Karshum Nur al-Din described the reports as “wishful thinking”.

“Al-Hilu is alive and kicking and fighting the enemy in the front lines and I spoke with him minutes prior to drafting this statement”, he said.

SRF rebels reportedly launched the surprise attack on Saturday, storming the major town which lies around 500 kilometres south of the capital Khartoum, utilising 150 vehicles and killing nine policemen, including a lieutenant, before later withdrawing the same day.

(ST)