MSF Says Sudan Air Force Bombs Hospital Amid Border State Attack

Medecins Sans Frontieres said Sudan’s air force bombed a hospital in war-torn Southern Kordofan state, less than a week after the U.S. accused the government of attacking civilians in rebel-held territory.

Bombs hit the village of Farandalla yesterday, wounding six people including one MSF worker, the Geneva-based organization said today in a statement. Hospital staff evacuated patients during the attack in which two blasts “partially destroyed” the facility.

“We are shocked that a medical facility can be bombed, especially since it was clearly identified with a flag and a cross on the roof,” Brian Moller, MSF’s mission head, said in the statement. Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled denied the air force had carried out any recent operations in the area.

Sudan’s government is stepping up attacks in Southern Kordofan in an attempt to crush a three-year-old insurgency, sparking accusations by the U.S. and peace groups that it’s targeting civilians.

As many as 125,000 people may have been displaced by clashes in Southern Kordofan in April and May, the United Nations humanitarian office said last week, citing figures from aid agencies and rebels. Samantha Power, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, on June 12 said that Sudan’s government has intensified its aerial campaign in the area in the past two months, dropping hundreds of barrel bombs and deliberately targeting hospitals and schools.

Sudan’s army only targets “rebels who harm the civilians,” spokesman Khaled said by phone today from the capital, Khartoum. “If the hospital was actually bombed, it didn’t come from us. It could have been bombed by rebel artillery.”

Fighting erupted between Sudanese government forces and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North rebels in Southern Kordofan in June 2011 and spread to Blue Nile state. Talks to end the conflict have stalled amid disagreements over the scope of negotiations and aid access to rebel-held areas.

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