Sudan regains control of Rokoro at the cost of civilian lives

Regaining control of a strategic town in East Jebel Marra, the Sudan Armed Forces shells surrounding villages, resulting in civilian casualties. In West Darfur, at least a dozen soldiers and rebels are killed in battle.

Government forces regained control of Rokoro in Central Darfur on Monday afternoon, from the months-long grip of the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid El Nur (SLM-AW). Fighting reportedly resulted in the death of seventeen civilians. A number of soldiers and rebels were killed in battle at the military garrison in Sileia, West Darfur.

Multiple witnesses said that soldiers and pro-government militias entered Rokoro in the afternoon, after they had expelled the armed rebels from Ruvata and Burgo, less than 10 km north of Rokoro. The SLM-AW seized Rokoro from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) last March.

When interviewed by Radio Dabanga, the military spokesman for the SLM-AW claimed that Rokoro was free of any military presence when the SAF entered the strategic town. “Our troops have not been in Rokoro since we took the area from the government.”

In the centre of East Jebel Marra, fighting between the SLM-AW and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) renewed for a second day nearby the rebels' military base in Ruvata. The battle lasted five hours, according to spokesman Mustafa Tambour.

He said that they were able to force the RSF to flee towards Fanga, leaving behind “thirteen dead and two Land Cruisers loaded with weapons”. The government forces and allied militias managed to eliminate the rebels from Fanga in January this year.

The SLM-AW now has issued orders for three companies of its rebel fighters to advance south, toward Fanga, “to break the opponents' base”.

Shelling causes civilian casualties

The SLM-AW has been actively engaged in fighting the Sudanese Armed Forces and allied militias over the past week in Rokoro area. This has triggered frequent aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Air Force.

In villages north-east of Rokoro, thirteen civilians were killed by shelling, and four by aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Air Force and Armed Forces on Monday.

Multiple witnesses reported to Radio Dabanga that the SAF from Fanga heavily shelled towards the direction of Rokoro, starting early morning. The shelling hit the villages of Ruvata, Burgo, Dabanara and Taringa.

Besides killing twelve villagers, the attack created enormous damage and burned down several houses. The witnesses disclosed the names of the deceased, adding that one woman died from suffocating by the smoke from the explosions. Meanwhile, hundreds of residents have fled the areas with their families, into the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Other witnesses reported that air strikes by Sudanese Antonov airplanes north of Surung resulted in the death of 5-year-old Abdelrahman Ahmed Yahya, 12-year-old Adam Nurnur, 18-year-old Aisha Yunis and Abaker Daoud Eisa, 45 years old.

Battle for Sileia garrison

In the West Darfur capital Sileia, the Sudanese military base came under attack by the SLM-AW in the early hours of Tuesday. The fighting resulted in at least a dozen casualties.

A witness told Radio Dabanga that the rebel movement came in a convoy, under the command of Abas Asil, and attacked the garrison at about 3 am. He said that they killed and wounded a number of soldiers, and seized vehicles and weapons. There were no casualties among civilians, he confirmed.

“A number of government forces have gathered from El Geneina, Kulbus and Sirba in West Darfur, to chase the attackers,” the witness added.

Spokesman Tambour declared that the rebels killed 25 soldiers in Sileia. Five rebels were killed. “We took ten Land Cruisers, destroyed two, and seized twelve rocket launchers, two stores for ammunition and military supplies.”

The commissioner of Jebel Moon locality, Hafiz Sheikh, acknowledged that the attack on the garrison took place. He denied, however, that any soldiers were killed, and that equipment was seized by the rebels.

“The government forces repulsed the attack and killed twelve rebels. The army seized three of their vehicles,” Sheikh told Radio Dabanga.