[QODLink]
Africa
Fighting erupts in Sudan's Kordofan region
Deaths reported in southern state after fighting between Sudanese armed forces and northern elements within the SPLA.
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2011 19:08
Khartoum has repeatedly ordered about 40,000 northern SPLA troops, which it says are illegal, to disarm [Reuters]

Fighting in Sudan's volatile oil-producing border state of South Kordofan has left several people dead and wounded, the UN has said.

"We know that more people have been killed overnight this morning in the state capital, Kadugli. But we don't have casualty figures," Hua Jiang, a spokeswoman for the UN mission in Sudan (UNMIS), told the AFP news agency on Wednesday.

Jiang said the fighting, which started on Sunday between Sudanese armed forces and northern elements within the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the former southern rebel group, was currently most fierce in Kadugli.

But the army had also been shelling SPLA positions in the mountains of South Kordofan, she added.

"The IDPs (internally displaced persons) are now our main concern," she said.

Ceasefire call

Tension has been escalating in South Kordofan, the north's only oil-producing state, which borders the south.

The state is home to many fighters who sided with the south against the north during decades of civil war and fear being isolated after the south officialy declares independence next month.

The fighters are still referred to as members of the SPLA, although south Sudan says they are no longer part of its army.

Khartoum has repeatedly ordered about 40,000 northern SPLA troops, which it says are illegal, to either disarm or redeploy south of the 1956 borders before southern independence.

The fighting started after northern forces attempted to disarm some of the armed groups, Yasir Arman, who heads the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement's [SPLM] northern wing, the political wing of the SPLA, said.

"We call for an immediate ceasefire, and to start dialogue immediately," Arman told Reuters.

A spokesman for the northern forces was not immediately available to comment, though Khartoum has previously said the region was stable.

UN staff evacuated

Kouider Zerrouk, another UN spokesperson, said that between 6,000 and 7,000 civilians were in and around the UNMIS peacekeeping compound, near Kadugli's airport, seeking protection.

All UN agencies and international NGOs have suspended their operations in Kadugli since Monday and their staff evacuated to the UNMIS base.

On Tuesday, the UN reported at least six casualties from clashes in the state capital, four of whom where Sudanese police officers.

South Kordofan is awash with weapons and retains strong links to the south, especially among the indigenous Nuba peoples who fought on the side of the southern rebels even though their homeland, the Nuba Mountains, lies in the north.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.