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Fresh clashes erupt in C. Darfur between Sudan army, rebels

January 16, 2016 (ZALINGEI) - Intense fighting took place between the Sudanese army and the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) led by Abdel Wahid al Nur in areas west of Jebel Marra in Central Darfur state, said IDPs official.

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)

An official from the IDPs camps in Central Darfur told Sudan Tribune Saturday that the government forces attacked the SLM-AW positions in Galdo, Sordong and Kotrong using more than 10 military aircrafts. He said the clashes began on Friday morning and continued until Saturday afternoon.

The same source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said several villages in the area were burned to aches, adding that thousands have been displaced and the fate of dozens more is unknown due to the heavy aerial bombardment.

He further pointed that hundreds have resorted to the caves of Jebel Marra, noting the western area where clashes took place is inhabited by more than 45,000 people.

The Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir recently announced the extension of the cessation of hostilities for one month in all the areas where the government army and militias are fighting against the rebel groups.

The SLM-AW, which refuses to join the African Union brokered peace talks, says not concerned by this process and the truce, asking the government to repair the effects of the armed conflict unilaterally, after what peace talks can discuss the root causes of the crisis.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese army spokesperson Ahmed al-Shami told Sudan Tribune Saturday that the army is fully committed to the ceasefire announced by President Omer al-Bashir but would not hesitate to repulse rebels attacks, claiming the rebels violated the ceasefire 70 times in various areas in Darfur.

Al-Shami stressed the government army didn’t launch any attack against rebels positions but continues to repel their attacks He accused the rebels of taking advantage of the ceasefire to ambush the administrative and military caravans.

He underscored that the army has suspended the direct military operations in Darfur since many months following the Gouz Dango battle, saying the combat capabilities of the rebels have been weakened after that famous battle.

the military spokesperson pointed that SLM-AW fighters around Jebel Marra continued to target the administrative caravans of the army which usually carry the supplies and salaries of the army personnel in the area.

Speaking to Radio Dabanga Saturday, SLM-AW leader Abdel-Wahid al Nur said his forces were able to repulse the government attacks on Jebel Marra, claiming that militants from the Islamic State organization (ISIS) have fought alongside the government army.

“We have all the evidence to prove this,” he said.

However, al-Shami dismissed al-Nur’s claims and described it as "mere propaganda and fabrications", denying the army had bombarded villages and caused displacement of thousands of the civilian population.

“The Sudanese army didn’t use military aircrafts; this is nothing but a lie”, he further said.

The Sudanese army has been fighting a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

Doha brokered the Darfur peace negotiations which resulted in the signing of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) by the Sudanese government and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) in July 2011. Also, a dissident faction of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) joined the DDPD in April 2013.

JEM led by Gibril Ibrahim and the SLM-MM led by Minni Minnawi have engaged in peace talks with the government under the auspices of the African Union.

The latest round of talks last November between the Sudanese government and the JEM and SLM-MM have stalled over issues pertaining to the security, humanitarian and political arrangements.

The two movements demand to hold talks on Darfur conflict and to open the DDPD for discussion before to join the national dialogue process.

(ST)