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Rebels, Sudan army claim victory in South Darfur, thousands fled

April 23 - 2013 NYALA

Following Monday’s fighting in Marla, South Darfur, rebels and the Sudanese army are making competing claims over who won the battles. Meanwhile, thousands of civilians fled their homes due to the violence.

Sudan Liberation Army faction of Minni Minawi (SLA-MM) alleges it killed 89 soldiers and militias while the Sudanese army (SAF) spokesman claimed rebel forces were defeated and that dozens were killed.  

SLA-MM told Radio Dabanga on Tuesday that among the dead soldiers are two commanders and one lieutenant called Mohammed Hassan Mahdi. In addition, tens were wounded, including the police captain Abu Bakr, also known as Abakorah.

Adam Saleh Abkar, rebel military spokesman, disclosed that five SLA-MM fighters were also killed in the clashes and that six were injured.

Besides, the movement had three vehicles –one of which mounted with Dushkas- and one mortar destroyed during the fighting which lasted six hours.  

For their part, rebels claimed seizing one tank, 15 Land Cruisers mounted with Dushkas, and a number of other weapons and mortars from army and militias. SLA-MM also allegedly destroyed one tank, eight Land Cruisers mounted with Dushkas and a mortar belonging to the rival parties.

Abkar said the villages of Marla, Hijer Tonga and Douaneh were hit and he confirmed again that rebel forces continue surrounding Nyala from the south and eastern sides of the town. 

“Airstrikes intensified”

Rebels’ spokesman suggested that SAF intensified its airstrikes on several villages after its “defeat”, adding that eight civilians were killed and another eight were wounded as a result.

The fatal victims were Mohamed Kheder Shigaf, Mohammed Abkar Omar, Juma Bush, Abdullah Ismail Delil, Adam Ibrahim Nour, Hamoudi Mohamed Hassan, Yahiya Adam Daoud, and Bakhat Ishaaq, Abkar said.

He also disclosed the names of the eight wounded: Idriss Adam Jalli, Osman Mohamed Mahdi, Abkar Ahmed Omar, Abkar Manis Hussein, Abdullah Hassan Jalli War,  Abdulrahman Mohamed Khamis, Adam Abdullah Hakar, and Adam Suleiman Khamis.

Moreover, the bombings left several houses and crops burned and “dozens” of livestock killed in the hardest hit villages, Abkar said.

SAF: repulsing rebels

SAF spokesman Colonel Al Sawarmi Khalid Saad announced his forces continue its operations in South and East Darfur and they are still "repulsing Minnawi’s" rebel movement.

In a statement to Sudan News Agency SUNA, Saad affirmed that Marla's battles lasted five hours and that rebels escaped leaving their dead fighters behind thereafter.

SLA-MM fatal victims, army spokesman said, include the three commanders Mohamed Janjawid, Ali Kida and Mohamed Oru.

In addition, SAF destroyed 15 vehicles and captured a big quantity of weapons and ammunitions belonging to SLA-MM.

Saad noted that “a number of his men” were killed and that others were injured in the fighting.

Thousands fled

Local sources from Hijer Tonga, Douaneh and Marla told Radio Dabanga that “thousands of people” fled the villages due to “heavy air bombings”.

“They are bombing anything that moves. On the ground militias are looting those who are running”, a source said.

A witness affirmed his village was burned down because of aerial bombardments which were followed by ground strikes by SAF troops and pro-government militias.

They reportedly arrived in the area on Monday evening, riding 500 camels and horses and driving 100 vehicles, and looted residents’ properties and their livestock. The central market was burned and several people were hurt, witnesses asserted.

However, the exact number of casualties cannot yet be assessed as “everyone” fled. Many children have also escaped, but their parents claim not knowing where they are.

“We have been fleeing since Monday towards the displaced camps of Bielel and El Salam in Nyala,” a witness disclosed.

He appealed to the UN and authorities to intervene and to put an end to air and ground strikes.

File photo: SAF (Albert González Farran/ UNAMID)

Related: Rebel group says it shelled Nyala airport, South Darfur (22 April 2013)

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