Sudan clashes kill dozens

Clashes in South Darfur kills 58 and raises tensions along the internal border involving a Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) company and another party.

Sudan People's Liberation Army flag

The clash happened in Balballa near to the border with the Bahr al-Ghazal province.

The identity of the other combatant is disputed with the SPLA claiming it to be the North Sudanese Sudan People’s Armed Forces (SPAF) whilst the SPAF and tribal sources say that it was Rezeigat nomadic Arab tribesmen that were involved.

A Rezeigat tribal leader has said that 58 tribesmen were killed in the clash and 85 were wounded. The governor of Bahr al-Ghazal has stated that both sides suffered casualties but no figures for SPLA losses are known.

The attack came just before results of the April general election were due to be announced. North Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is expected to win the election, with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement retaining control over the semi-autonomous south of the country.

It is not known who instigated the attack. The SPLA claims that the attackers were uniformed members of the northern Sudan People’s Armed Forces (SPAF) and used four landcruisers with mounted machine guns. The SPAF denies any involvement in this attack but stated that the SPLA had clashed with the Rezeigat nomadic Arab tribe, calling it a “clear violation” of the 2005 peace deal.

A tribal spokesman confirmed to the Agence France Presse news agency that the Rezeigat had been involved in the clash with the SPLA whilst searching for new pastures for their cattle. The SPLA denied this stating that the Rezeigat were not equipped with landcruisers. The governor of nearby Bahr al-Ghazal province only confirmed a clash between the SPLA and “armed men” that caused casualties on both sides. The governor stated that he would meet with the Darfuri authorities to discuss the matter.

The SPLA stated that another attack had been launched on its forces in the area on 25 April. This attack occurred in the Raja area and forced the SPLA force to retreat. Of the approximately 100 men in the area 47 had reported back with the remainder presumed to be still out in the field.

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