An Antonov of the Sudanese Air Force bombed the area of Kurmuk in the south-eastern part of Blue Nile on Saturday. More than 1,300 government troops were reportedly killed in Blue Nile state in 2014.
At about 2 pm, the aircraft dropped 10 barrel bombs on the villages of Jaradan and El Sheima, south of Kurmuk. Three farms burned to the ground, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, military spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), reported in a press statement on Saturday evening.
The rebel spokesman pointed to the denial of humanitarian access by the ruling national Congress Party (NCP) “to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan since the war broke out in the two areas in 2011”. He strongly condemned “the NCP's systematic policy to displace and famish the civilians living in the areas controlled by the SPLM-N”.
The tenth round of peace talks between Khartoum and the SPLM-N, brokered by the AU High-level Implementation Team (AUHIP) in Addis Ababa, was suspended on 23 November, as both sides failed to reach an agreement on the cessation of hostilities and the delivery of humanitarian aid in the Two Areas after five days of negotiations.
The government delegation insisted on arranging the provision of food and relief items on Sudanese territory, while the SPLM-N delegation preferred the delivery of aid via Sudan and Ethiopia.
In a bid to bridge the gaps, the AU mediation team invited both sides for informal talks in the Ethiopian capital mid December. Again, the two parties failed to reach an agreement, but agreed to hold “a second informal meeting at the earliest date for further intensive discussions,” SPLM-N spokesman Mubarak Ardol said in a statement at the time.
More than 1,300 government troops killed in 2014
At least 1,310 members of the Sudanese Armed Forces and its allied militia were reportedly killed in battles with SPLM-N combatants in the state in 2014.
Radio Tamazuj reported on Saturday that according to a research by the El Shahid (Martyr's) organisation, supported by the Blue Nile government, the number of Sudanese army soldiers and allied militiamen killed in the state increased from 1,220 in 2013 to 1,310 in 2014.
This represents a 10 percent increase, according to the details that were collected among families of the slain government troops.
The report also cites poor services provided to wounded soldiers in Blue Nile, while pointing to a more than 80 percent deficit in services meant to be provided to the relatives of the killed soldiers.