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Sudan’s air forces reportedly kill civilians in South Kordofan

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January 14, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Heavy fighting erupted last week between Sudan’s army (SAF) and rebels in the border state of South Kordofan amid reports of civilians being killed in aerial bombardment.

South Kordofan has been the scene of a conflict between Sudanese forces and rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N).

The fighting, which erupted since June last year, has already displaced 417,000, according to UN estimates.

Last week’s battles, which occurred on Tuesday and Wednesday, started when SAF launched an offensive attack on the rebels-controlled villages of Buram and Tess, south of the state’s capital Kadugli and north of the borders with South Sudan.

According to Sudan Tribune’s sources, SPLA-N forces repelled the attack and SAF retreated to Kadugli.

The rebels said their forces killed a number of SAF soldiers, destroyed a convoy and seized weapons.

"We destroyed one complete convoy ... five big trucks carrying ammunition and guns while four other trucks were captured and the bodies of five government soldiers left on the ground” a rebels spokesman told AFP on Saturday.

Sources on the ground told Sudan Tribune that many civilians were killed and wounded when SAF bombed surrounding villages during the fighting.However, no exact figure could be verified.

Sudan Tribune has also received photos purporting to show wounded and displaced civilians.

The rebel spokesman quoted by AFP said that 16 villagers were killed and 26 wounded during the attack.

On the other hand, SAF’s spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa’ad confirmed that their troops conducted a “wide operation” that expelled the rebels. But he denied the bombing and the killings.

"We don’t have figures for dead or wounded" on either the government or rebel sides, he said, as quoted by AFP.

Claims made with regards to the conflict in South Kordofan are difficult to verify due to the near-total absence of media or aid personnel in the state.

Khartoum has refused to allow foreign aid groups to access the area or setup displacement camps.