Fierce fighting erupted between Sudanese government forces and combatants of the Sudan Liberation Movement headed by Minni Minawi (SLM-MM) in East and North Darfur on Friday.
According to a statement by Ahmed Khalifa El Shami, spokesman for the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) on Saturday, a joint force of army troops and members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) “confronted armed groups of mercenaries who simultaneously entered North and East Darfur from Libya and South Sudan to undermine peace and stability in Sudan”.
The rebels strongly condemned the attacks. In a statement SLM-MM spokesman Ahmed Hussein Mustafa denounced the “violation of the unilateral Cessation of Hostilities recently declared by both sides”.
He reported that the rebel forces “swiftly repulsed the attacks and inflicted the enemy forces a deserved defeat,” and stated that they “will continue to defend the innocent and helpless civilians who are under constant attack by the government militia”.
In a second statement on Saturday, the SLM-MM reported that the attacks took place in the area “south of the railway in South and East Darfur”, and in the area of Baashim in North Darfur’s Kutum.
The government forces “targeted and burned villages in these areas. They also destroyed water sources, and stole the citizens' livestock”.
The SLM-MM further reported that the fighting so far caused “large losses to the militias and government forces and massive destruction of government vehicles. In most of these areas, all roads have been blocked to prevent them from escaping”.
According to the rebel spokesman, “These new operations are part of the plan announced by the government and its militias to forcibly displace the people living in these areas, with the aim to carry out demographic changes and replacements [of the original inhabitants]. This is also reflected in the wells that are being drilled in these areas guarded by Rapid Support militiamen”.
Last week, SLM-MM accused the Government of Sudan of preparing a full-scale war against the armed movements in North Darfur.
The RSF militia as well issued a statement on Saturday, in which reported that “The enemy suffered heavy losses in lives and property. It [the RSF militia] managed to capture a large number of rebels and mercenaries. It seized 20 vehicles with all its equipment, including a fuel tanker, and destroyed a large number of military vehicles belonging to the enemy”.
Spokesman Lt.-Col. Adam Mohamed Saleh further said that the rebel groups in North Darfur fled towards Libya. “Our troops are still chasing them.”
The spokesman said that “Since its inception, the RSF have been closely monitoring the brutal and aggressive actions of the mercenary rebel movements”. He accused the South Sudanese government of supporting the rebels with “logistics and extension of mercenary forces, all with the aim of undermining the security and stability witnessed in Sudan in general and in Darfur in particular”.
On Saturday, Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Ibrahim Ghandour, met in his office with the ambassadors of the five member states of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the Troika countries (the USA, UK, and Norway), as well as the Ambassador of the European Union to Sudan.
According to a FA statement, the Minister informed them that the Darfuri rebels whom he accused of fighting in Libya and South Sudan as mercenaries, now moved across the borders “with the aim of aborting the peace and stability achieved in Darfur, as has been acknowledged by the UN Security Council as well as the Peace and Security Council of the African Union”.
Ghandour accused the rebel movements of aiming “to drag the government to a military confrontation so as to abort the government of Sudan’s unilateral cessation of hostilities declared more than one-and-half year ago”.
He urged the UNSC member states and the international community to condemn this “hostile attack”.