Source: The Daily Star
Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force engineers carry beds into tents as they build their camp in the South Sudanese capital of Juba on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)
Sudan’s military is carrying out a bombing campaign intended to shut down the main route for refugees fleeing violence in the country’s south, a rebel spokesman said Monday. A former American aid worker who lives in the region documented five attacks and clashes last week.
Attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces have been focused along the road leading out of Southern Kordofan, Sudan, into Yida, South Sudan, said Arnu Loddi, a spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group inside Sudan.
More than 20,000 refugees have already fled to a camp in Yida to escape the violence, and the United Nations is worried that hundreds of thousands more could be on the way.
According to Loddi, who is based in Kenya, Sudanese Armed Forces have been launching missiles from a military base in Kadugli, Sudan into the border region. He said Sudanese forces also launched “an ambush on a lorry carrying civilians going to Yida,” last week. Loddi did not know how many casualties were sustained in the attack.
A Sudanese military spokesman did not immediately answer calls seeking comment about the reports.
“They want to close down the roads,” said Loddi. “Sometimes they ambush, sometimes they bomb it. Since the beginning of this year they have bombed the same area at least five times.”
The rebel SPLM-North was once part of the Southern People’s Liberation Movement, now the ruling political party in newly independent South Sudan.
The SPLM says it cut off relations with the rebels across the border after South Sudan broke away from Khartoum in July. But Sudan claims that the SPLM-North still receives funding and support from Juba and even maintains a presence in refugee camps – including Yida – across the border.
Also Monday, a major rebel group in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region said it had captured 52 international peacekeepers, most of them from Senegal, and accused them of cooperating with the country’s security service.
The joint U.N.-African Union UNAMID peacekeeping force has been repeatedly caught in the crossfire during almost 10 years of fighting between government troops and insurgents in Sudan’s remote west.
A UNAMID official denied the claim later Monday, saying the peacekeepers were blocked in the region.
“They are not taken hostage but they were blocked since yesterday in northwest Darfur,” a UNAMID information officer told AFP.
But Gibreel Adam Bilal, a spokesman for the rebel Justice and Equality Movement told Reuters: “We are holding the UNAMID soldiers because they entered our territory without permission and were accompanied by three Sudanese we suspect work for the security services.”