Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SLM'S Abdel Wahid Al Nur in France ordered attack on Sudanese army in the government-held Golo district in the Jebel Marra mountains

For the record, and for future reference, here is a copy of five news reports that I chronicled on 15 January 2010 for documenting here at Sudan Watch.

Darfur rebels say attack govt town after bombings
From Reuters by Opheera McDoom, Wed, 13 January 2010 12:04pm GMT:
(KHARTOUM) - Darfur rebels said they attacked a government-held town in the Jabel Marra area of western Sudan on Wednesday in retaliation for army bombardment of their areas, a move likely to hinder peace talks set to open this month.

Tensions were already high in oil-producing Sudan which is gearing up for presidential, parliamentary and state governor elections in April.

The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) loyal to founder Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur said they attacked Golo in Jabel Marra in retaliation for government bombings of rebel-controlled areas there and in the Jabel Moun area on the border with Chad.

"The government started this with bombing in Jabel Moun and in Jabel Marra," said SLA commander Ibrahim el-Helwu.

"We attacked Golo this morning -- we have casualties and the government has many casualties," he added.

The joint U.N.-African union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) does not have troops in the area but said aid workers caught in the crossfire had sought refuge in their compound.

"For the time being they (aid workers) are safe," said Balla Keita, UNAMID commander for West Darfur.

A government intelligence source said fighting was still going on, but Sudan's army was not immediately available to comment.

Darfur peace talks, which have faltered for the past three years, are due to reopen this month in Qatar, but the fighting is likely to fuel mistrust between the rebels and Khartoum.

In 2003 mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglecting the region. Khartoum mobilised mainly Arab militias to crush the uprising.

The United Nations estimates 300,000 people have died as a result of the conflict and that 2 million have been driven from their homes according to the United Nations. Sudan puts the death toll at 10,000.

Last year the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hasan al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur.

Keita said the government had bombed Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) positions in the Jabel Moun area.

"They have confirmed that they bombed JEM positions because they say JEM is running operations in Jabel Moun," he said.

A JEM commander in the Jabel Moun area said the attacks had been going on for several days.

"For the past week there has been heavy bombing of our people," al-Tijani Kharshome told Reuters by telephone.

"There are hundreds of families who have fled their homes and are hungry and thirsty," said Kharshome, who is from a large Arab tribe in Darfur.
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Sudan's Army, Rebels Clash in Darfur
From Voice of America News, Wed, 13 January 2010:
Rebels in Sudan's Darfur region say they clashed with government forces Wednesday, days before a scheduled new round of peace talks.

The Sudan Liberation Army faction of Abdel Wahid Nur said its troops attacked the government-held Golo district in the Jebel Marra mountains.

A spokesman said there were casualties on both sides. He did not give specific figures.

The joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission confirmed there was fighting in the area.

The rebels say earlier this week, Sudanese warplanes bombarded rebel-controlled areas in Jebel Marra and in Jebel Moun, near the border with Chad.

Peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups are due to resume later this month in Qatar.

The United Nations says the fighting in Darfur has killed up to 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million since 2003.

The government says 10,000 people have died in the conflict.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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Darfur rebels attack Sudanese army in Jebel Marra
From Sudan Tribune, Thur, 14 January 2010:
January 13, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — A Darfur rebel group today attacked a Sudanese army-held town in Jebel Marra in North Darfur after repeated government bombing of their position, a rebel spokesman said.

[Photo] Sudan Liberation Army rebels speed through the desert east of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state November 8, 2004. (file/Reuters)
Ibrahim El Hilu, a spokesperson from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) led by Abdel Wahid Al Nur told Sudan Tribune they attacked on Wednesday morning the position of the Sudanese army in Gulu, the capital of the mountainous area.

The rebel official said these attacks come after daily bombardment by the Sudanese army in the region adding they decided to protect the civilians by their proper means as the international community failed to press Khartoum to stop "indiscriminate violence".

El-Hilu said they arrested more than forty government troops, among them a colonel and a lieutenant whose names and military details he provided to Sudan Tribune. He also said they captured 17 military vehicles with weapons and ammunitions.

Since this summer, rebels loyal to the SLM founder reported regular bombing against their positions in different areas of the Jebel. The army and pro-government militia attacked also their position in Korma and Ain Siro.

Abdel Wahid Al-Nur confirmed the attack saying the SLM leadership decided to carry out this attack to protect the civilians in the mountainous areas reminding that his troops observe the 2004 ceasefire agreement but have the right to defend the area.

He stressed that the decision had been taken in consultation with the SLA Commander in Chief Abdel Gadir Gadora and Mohamed Abdel Salam Tarada.

Al-Nur stressed that they are peace seekers but asked Khartoum to stop violence on Darfur civilians.

"We are peace seekers and if the government stops the violence against Darfur civilians and provides the necessary environment for their security, we can take part in the peace process without precondition."

The rebel leader further urged the Red Cross to contact them to visit the prisoners of the Sudanese army and inspect their conditions.

UNAMID official spokesperson Noureddine Mezni confirmed to Sudan Tribune the attack, adding they had no presence in the area but received reports about the assault from the NGOs working there.

Mezni said they have no access to areas controlled by the SLA-AW. "Unfortunately we cannot provide humanitarian aid or deal with the injuries among the civilian population there."

He urged the rebel group to reconsider its position and allow the peacekeeping mission to visit their areas in order to accomplish its duties as provided in the UN mandate.

Meanwhile, the Darfur peace mediator is preparing to hold direct talks between the government and the rebel groups to end the seven year conflict on January 24 in Doha.

The main rebel groups blame Khartoum for its lack of credibility and yet say they are ready to negotiate under some conditions. In a new development, last week the joint mediator said he is expecting Al-Nur to join the peace process.

Also the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said today government warplanes bombed the area of Jebel Moon in West Darfur State where the rebel group holds some positions.

JEM Spokesman Ahmed Hussein Adam said that hundreds of civilians moved to eastern Chad to flee the daily bombardment.

UN experts have estimated that the fighting in Darfur resulted in the deaths of up to 300,000 people and displaced 2.7 million since 2003. However the Sudanese government says only 10,000 people have died in the conflict. (ST)
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Chad bombs rebels near Sudan border: UFR
From AFP Saturday, 16 January 2010:
KHARTOUM — Chadian air force jets bombarded rebel positions in a region bordering Sudan and the Central African Republic, a rebel source said on Saturday.

The warplanes carried out the air strikes on Friday near the village of Tissi, said the senior official with the Union of Forces for Resistance (UFR) rebel group who requested anonymity.

The rebels responded by shooting at and hitting one of the aircraft, the official said, adding that: "We expect an intensification of the Chadian army's operations."

Most of the UFR rebels are based in Sudan's Darfur region, with a force also in Chad.

Chad and Sudan agreed on Friday for the first time to set up a joint force on their troubled border which will be deployed on February 20.

Chad has accused Sudan of supporting rebels seeking to oust the government, while Khartoum has charged Ndjamena with backing ethnic minority rebels in the conflict-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur.

Improved ties between the two countries could help bring peace to Darfur, where about 300,000 people have died since ethnic rebels revolted in 2003.
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Darfur rebels say Sudan army attacks market area
From Reuters, Saturday, 16 January 2010 12:32pm EST
(KHARTOUM) - Darfur rebels said Sudan's army had attacked their troops in a populated area of the western state of North Darfur on Saturday, escalating fighting ahead of peace talks due to open this month.

Tensions were already high in oil-producing Sudan which is gearing up for presidential, parliamentary and state governor elections in April.

Saturday's attack follows an assault by the rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) on the government garrison town Golo in Jabel Marra last Wednesday after days of government bombardment of rebel positions in Sudan's remote west.

"The government attacked our areas in the market area of Furug," SLA commander Ibrahim el-Helwu told Reuters. "This is a heavily populated area," he added.

The army spokesman's office was not immediately available to comment and the U.N.-African Union peacekeepers (UNAMID) said they were checking the reports.

"All the areas under the control of SLA (Abdel Wahed)...are a no-go area for us," UNAMID spokesman Noureddine Mezni said.

The rebels accuse the mission of working too closely with Khartoum and refuse to allow them to enter their areas.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2009 for war crimes during a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in Sudan's west after rebels took up arms in 2003 demanding more autonomy.

Darfur's fighting sparked a humanitarian crisis which the United Nations estimates has claimed 300,000 lives and driven more than 2 million from their homes.

Fighting has largely subsided since the early battles, but sporadic clashes have since pushed rebels out of the main towns and into the vast swathes of arid countryside.

(Reporting by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Louise Ireland)
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- See Sudan Watch, Tuesday, March 16, 2010: IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM DARFUR IDPs: "Please press the movements for peace" — a direct call for rebel leaders to stop fighting and negotiate for peace

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