June 11, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – North Sudan’s army has categorically denied reports of a mutiny within its ranks as well as claims by the opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) that one of its warplanes was shot down in the central state of South Kordofan.
Since Sunday, 5 June, Sudan’s oil-producing state of South Kordofan, which borders the soon-to-be independent region of South Sudan, has been the scene of violent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), north Sudan’s army, and elements of the SPLM’s military wing, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
The fighting, which erupted in and around the provincial capital of Kadugli, less than a month after the result of South Kordofan’s gubernatorial elections was announced in favour of north Sudan ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) incumbent Ahmad Haroun, has hitherto displaced as many as 75,000 people, according to UN figures, and claimed an unknown number of lives.
SAF claimed that the fighting was ignited after SPLA forces attacked a local police station and made away with a stash of weapons. According to the SPLA though, the fighting was caused by SAF’s attempt to forcibly disarm its members.
Aerial bombardment and heavy artillery were reported as late as Friday morning in the vicinity of Kadugli amid reports of dead bodies being seen on the streets.
On Saturday, Gamar Dalman, the media secretary to the SPLM’s leader in South Kordofan and candidate in the state governor elections Abdul Aziz Adam al-Hilu, told Sudan Tribune via the phone from South Sudan capital Juba that SPLA forces on Friday downed two Antonov and MIG SAF planes in Kauoda and Kloud respectively after flying on a low altitude, making them an easy target.
“There is no truth whatsoever in the claim that warplanes belonging to SAF had been downed in the area,” SAF’s official spokesman, Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad said in a statement reported on Saturday by Sudan’s official news agency SUNA.
On Friday, the SPLM in South Kordofan called on members of the regular forces to defect to the ranks of the uprising to topple the government of president Al-Bashir.
The army spokesman went on to deny the veracity of reports on the existence of a mutiny within SAF ranks as well as reports that some SAF soldiers had defected to the SPLM’s side.
“The situation is now stable due to the consistency of the armed forces and their performance which refutes any claim of a mutiny…such claim has no basis in reality,” al-Sawarmi was quoted as saying.
Concurrently, SAF issued a press release in which it claimed it had detected “suspicious movement” by SPLA troops in South Kordofan since April.
According to SAF’s statement, these movements were observed around areas such as Buhaiyrat Al-Obaiyd as well as eastern and western Nuba Mountains.
SAF further expressed regret at the “uneven condemnation” by the UN Mission in Sudan which accused SAF of using “excessive force,” saying that it was the UN who failed to condemn those who started the “aggression against unarmed civilians.”