Sudanese government forces and members of the northern branch of the ruling party in neighboring South Sudan clashed in the capital of Blue Nile state, the governor and an army spokesman said.
State Governor Malik Agar said government forces attacked members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, of which he is chairman. “When our forces shot back at them, they just heavily bombarded my house and all sites” of the SPLM-N in the state capital, Al-Damazin, he said.
Al-Sawarmi Khaled, a Sudanese army spokesman, said SPLM-N forces attacked first at the southern entrance to Al-Damazin. Sudanese government troops are now in “full control” of the area, he said by phone today from Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. “We’re now carrying out military operations to chase remnants of rebels in Blue Nile.”
Sudan’s government has been trying to disarm members of the SPLM-N in the border states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan who fought with the forces of South Sudan during the two-decade civil war that ended in 2005. South Sudan gained independence on July 9. Sudanese government soldiers have clashed with SPLM-N fighters since June 5 in Southern Kordofan.
Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir announced a cease-fire in Southern Kordofan last week.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch said in an Aug. 30 statement that the government continued to bomb civilian areas in Southern Kordofan after the declaration of the cease-fire. Khaled denied the allegation.
“Now the real aim behind the cease-fire in Southern Kordofan was uncovered: just paving the political and military situation for attacks on Blue Nile,” Yasser Arman, the SPLM-N secretary-general, said today in an e-mailed statement.
More than 300 vehicles carrying residents fleeing Al-Damazin were heading today to Wed Al-Nile, a town 86 kilometers (53 miles) north of Al-Damazin, Esmail Mohamed, a member of Ummah, Sudan’s biggest opposition party, said by phone as he travelled in the convoy.
“The situation is very serious in Blue Nile,” he said. “Some 4,000 people are being evacuated from the city” by the Sudanese army.