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TIMELINE: Sudan battles former peace partner SLM-Minawi

December 26 - 2010 By Radio Dabanga

Another humanitarian crisis has emerged in eastern Darfur as 18,000 people flee rebel-dominated areas under attack. Fighting between the Government of Sudan and an alliance of opposition forces is being waged in territories controlled largely by the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army faction of Minni Minawi (SLM/A-MM).

The most recent fighting has witnessed cooperation between military commanders of the long-divided SLA factions of Minawi and Abdel Wahid Al Nur, as well as the Justice and Equality Movement. The main reports of fighting have come from Dar es Salaam, Shangil Tobaya and Khor Abeche – all of which experienced mass exodus of the civilian populations, but none of which are currently in government hands. Shangil Tobaya lies on the north-south road between El Fasher and Nyala, while Dar es Salaam is directly to the east, some 35 kilometres from Shangil Tobaya and 60 kilometres south of El Fasher on a lesser road. Khor Abeche is further to the south.

The fighting is related to the political breakdown in the relationship between Minni Minawi and Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party. Minawi, who split from the main SLA faction in 2005, was the only major Darfur rebel leader to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement of 2006. He became Senior Presidential Advisor, nominally the fourth highest position in the government. He was not re-appointed to this position after the April 2010 elections, and he moved to Juba in South Sudan. He also headed that Transitional Darfur Authority, a governance body staffed by former Darfuri insurgents. In the absence of comprehensive peace, this body was ineffective and internally divided.


2 December

- The army declares Minni Minawi’s forces as hostile, Khartoum newspapers report. A group of Minawi’s fighters has begun moving southward toward the autonomous Southern Sudan region and is being pursued, the army spokesman claims.

- The bank accounts of the Transitional Darfur Authority are frozen, Radio Dabanga learns.

6 December

- Minawi cadres are arrested in El Fasher and Nyala, including18 in El Fasher and 5 in Nyala.

- The palace vehicles formerly used by Minawi and his aides are seized in Khartoum.

10 December

- Sudan Armed Forces attack Khor Abeche village at approximately 10:30 a.m.

- Fighting is also reported at Hujair, south of the railway in South Darfur.

- Minawi says the government’s military escalation means it has withdrawn from the 2006 Darfur Peace Agreement. “The movement is now fully prepared to defend ourselves and the citizens,” he tells Radio Dabanga.

- Minawi alleges government forces carry out burning, pillaging and killing in Khor Abeche. He says that government forces also raped a woman and ransacked the property of citizens and their livestock in Shearia area.

11 December

- Sudan Armed Forces attack Khor Abeche village again. This attack and the one on the previous day resulted in two civilians dead and 24 wounded, according to a UNAMID report.

13 December

- Approximately 600 people flee the attacks on Khor Abeche and seek refuge and humanitarian assistance at UNAMID’s team site. Peacekeepers on patrol in the village observe SLA-MM fighters in the general area.

14 December

- 45 households of newly displaced people arrive in Menawashi town, 70km north of Nyala. They are from Khor Abeche.

15 December

- North Darfur State spokesman Hafez Alfa denies fighting in Dar es Salaam and Shangil Tobaya. He tells Radio Dabanga that a security detail accompanying the visiting governor, Osman Kibir, caused alarm among citizens, who mistook it for an invading force.

- Minawi alleges that Governor Osman Kibir was traveling through the Shangil Tobaya area on the way to see the militia commander in Shearia.

16 December

- US National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer: “The United States is deeply concerned about reports that the Sudanese Armed Forces attacked and burnt the village of Khor Abeche in South Darfur. According to the United Nations, the attacks left many injured, some dead, and thousands displaced. The United States condemns this attack on civilians.”

- The new President of the Transitional Darfur Regional Authority, Governor Al Shartai Jaafar Abdel-Hakam, dismisses 10 members of SLM-MM from the Authority.

17 December

- SAF attacks SLM-MM in Khor Abeche. The fighting lasts more than two hours.

20 December

- A government force on its way to Shangil Tobaya burns down a village, arrests a civilian and tortures him to death, according to a witness who fled the town.

- Government troops allegedly open fire on Shaddad IDP Camp in Shangil Tabaya, causing hundreds of people to flee. Aid organizations that had provided services for thousands of people pull out. Government troops enter the town and carry out house-to-house searches, beating and arresting people and looting property, witnesses say.

21 December

- Government forces kill 4 people, rape 6 women and arrested 15 others in an attack on the villages south of Shangil Tobayi, witnesses say.

- Five villages are looted and burnt: Hila Jadeed, Gudu, Jebel At-Tin, Aman-alla, and Kandibu.

22 December

- Shangil Tabaya village is burnt down.

- Aerial bombardment is witnessed in some areas, especially Khosusa in the area of Jibla At-Teen.

23 December

- A joint rebel forces launches an attack on government troops near Dar es Salaam. SLM-AW, LJM, JEM, SLM-MM and a unit led by Abdullah Yahia are reportedly involved in the fighting. The rebels claim to route the government forces and capture all of their vehicles.

- Ali Karbino, a rebel commander in the ceasefire signatory group LJM, discloses that his forces participated in the Dar es Salaam assault. He says the attack was reprisal for the government offensives on Shangil Tobaya and Khor Abeche.

- Mohamed Bashir Abdullah, an SLM-MM official, tells Radio Dabanga that their troops have gained complete control of Dar es Salaam Locality.

- The number of people seeking refuge outside the UNAMID team site in Khor Abeche has grown to 2000.

- The number of people seeking refuge outside the UNAMID team site in Shangil Tobaya has now grown to over 4000. “The situation remains tense, with gunfire heard overnight,” states UNAMID. 

- UNAMID reports it is investigating allegations of an attack on the IDP camp in Shaeria. 360 displaced persons seek shelter outside the Mission’s team site in Shaeria.

24 December

- UNAMID team sites “are requesting urgent humanitarian support.”

- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and UNAMID’s Humanitarian Liaison estimate that there are over 18,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in and around the Khor Abeche area, including 5,000 and 3,000 in Negaha and Shaeria respectively.

- Eyewitnesses near Shangil Tobaya tell Radio Dabanga that the people who fled the fighting are in a very bad situation and are living in the open. A merchant who fled from Shangil Tobaya says that more than 2000 families fled to the area Tabaldiya near Shangil Tobaya. He says that all of the traders at Hila Jadeed were looted of their property.

- At least 2 rebel soldiers die in a clash at Fingyar, a village near Dar es Salaam, and others are wounded. JEM commander Ali Alwafi, who issues a statement on behalf of the newly formed “Alliance of Resistance Forces,” says that the rebels captured 19 armoured vehicles and destroyed others. He claims the fighting began at 3:30 in the afternoon and lasted less than an hour before the Armed Forces fled back to El Fasher.

- UNAMID “denounces ongoing clashes in Dar al-Salaam, South Darfur.”

- State media (SUNA) quotes the army spokesman Lt.-Col Al Sawarmi Khaled Saad as saying the army “attacked and defeated an alliance of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army of Minni Minnawi,” in Shangil Tobaya area. He says the fighting resulted in 40 rebel killed, 4 vehicles captured, 2 SAF killed and 13 wounded. These figures do not include militia casualties. SUNA alleges the rebel alliance is “based in Bori town in Bahr al-Ghazal State.”

- JEM field commander Mohamed Osman is killed in the fighting, according to the army spokesman.

25 December

- Fighting occurs in Jebel At-Tin until 6:00 in the evening.  The village is southeast from Shangil Tobaya on a small road toward Khor Abeche. Suleiman Marajan, a commander in SLA-AW, says that rebel troops from JEM, SLA-MM and SLA-AW participated in the fighting at Jebel At-Tin. 

- There are five cases of rape at Jebel At-Tin. One civilian, Abdullah Ibrahim Wadi, is killed by government forces. People fleeing this area are going northward on foot to Zamzam camp, which is near El Fasher.

- UN peacekeepers receive “disturbing reports of civilian deaths... during the recent fighting in Khor Abeche and Dar Al Salam,” according to an official statement.

- Joint Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé expresses “profound concern about the resumption of hostilities between the Sudan Armed Forces and Justice and Equality Movement in North Darfur.” A ceasefire is needed before the end of the year, he tells Sudan Tribune website.

- UNAMID boss Ibrahim Gambari “expresses his deep concern over reports of continued fighting on the ground, particularly in Dar al-Salam and Khor Abeche, and rising tensions in Shangil Tobaya and other areas.”

26 December

- Civilians who fled from the events in Shangil Tabaya and its surroudings lack such necessities as food and drinking water. One source among them accuses the government of preventing the refugees from getting to the IDP camps in the cities.

- The citizens’ association of Shangil Tobaya, a group represented both inside and outside of the country, appeals to the UN to create a commission of inquiry into the events that occurred in the region, including the burning, looting and displacement of civilians.



Acronyms used:

  • JEM – Justice and Equality Movement (led by Khalil Ibrahim)
  • LJM – Liberation and Justice Movement (led by Tijani Sese)
  • SAF – Sudan Armed Forces
  • SLA-AW – Sudan Liberation Army (Abdel Wahid Al Nur faction)
  • SLA-MM – Sudan Liberation Army (Minni Minawi faction)
  • UNAMID – United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur


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