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Central Darfur governor denies continued clashes in Jebel Marra

June 4, 2018 (KHARTOUM) - The government of Central Darfur has stressed the security situation is stable across the state particularly in Jebel Marra area, denying rebel reports about continued fighting in the area.

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SLM-AW fighters on guard during a visit by UNAMID chief Ibrahim Gambari to Fanga Suk village, in East Jebel Marra, West Darfur, on 18 March 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

Since last March, reports emerged from Central Darfur state about the resumption of clashes between the government’s forces and the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel-Wahid al-Nur which is not part of the regional and international efforts to end the 15-year conflict in Darfur.

Also, Darfur hybrid peacekeeping force has reported "low-scale skirmishes" in Jebel Marra area between the government forces and the SLM-AW fighters.

However, governor of Central Darfur state Mohamed Ahmed Jad al-Sid on Monday denied the existence of military operations in Jebel Marra, describing reports about continued clashes in the mountainous area as “tendentious”.

He renewed his government’s commitment to the unilateral ceasefire, saying security organs are pursuing some remnants of the SLM-AW in order to impose the state authority and secure the farming season and voluntary return of IDPs and refugees.

The governor underlined the security situation is completely stable, pointing to testimonies of the UNAMID and the Political Counsellor at the US embassy in Khartoum who recently visited Jebel Marra.

He added the UN has praised the flow of humanitarian aid to Jebel Marra via the various crossings which are protected by the Central Darfur government.

On 13 May, a Sudanese official told Sudan Tribune that more than 1500 troops including militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been deployed in Kass locality of South Darfur in order to attack the SLM-AW positions in Jebel Marra.

The sources said additional sources have been massed in Zalingei, the capital of Central Darfur to take part in the military operations.

The Sudanese government and three armed groups including Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), SLM - Minni Minnawi and SLM-Transitional Council have declared a unilateral cessation of hostilities in Darfur. The SLM-AW is not part of the measure which aims to enable aid workers to provide humanitarian assistance to civilians in the war affected areas.

In April 2016, the Sudanese army launched a comprehensive offensive on the rebel-held areas in Jebel Marra but stopped its operations under the U.S. pressures and after signing a framework agreement for the lift of economic sanctions.

The UNAMID has established a new temporary base in Golo to enhance the protection of civilians in the Jebel Marra but the new site is not yet fully operating.

Jebel Marra, which spans over three states including North, Central and South Darfur, is located in a water-rich area that is characterised by a mild climate.

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