More troops for wartorn South Kordofan: Sudan minister

AFP , Friday 14 Dec 2012

Defense minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein blames Juba for backing the insurgents

More troops and equipment will be sent to Sudan's wartorn South Kordofan state, the defence minister said as rebels on Friday identified 21 government soldiers they claimed to have killed this week.

Sudan's army has been unable to eliminate the 18-month-old rebellion in oil-producing South Kordofan, and blames South Sudan for supporting the insurgents of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

That support -- widely believed by foreign analysts despite Juba's denials -- goes to the heart of tensions between the two countries and their failure to implement key security and economic deals signed in September.

During a visit to the South Kordofan state capital Kadugli on Thursday, Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein announced the reinforcements, the official SUNA news agency reported.

"Although the situation is stable in the big towns and the main roads, the state needs to expand the secure area," he said, according to SUNA.

In late November residents of Kadugli said extra troops had already arrived in the capital, which had endured periodic rebel mortar attacks.

Hussein's announcement of new reinforcements comes after rebels reported the defeat of government forces who tried on Monday to take the strategic rebel-held town of Daldako, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) northeast of Kadugli.

The rebels seized several armoured vehicles in the battle, said their spokesman, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi.

Attempts to reach Sudan's army spokesman were unsuccessful.

Lodi on Friday released the names of 21 troops and militia he said were killed at Daldako and a second location this week. For most of them, he also gave what he said were their government identity numbers and army unit.

SPLM-N were allies of southern rebels during Sudan's 22-year civil war, which ended with a 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan's independence in July last year.

Hussein, Sudan's defence minister, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes allegedly committed in the country's far-west Darfur region.

The governor of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, is also sought by the Hague-based court over alleged Darfur crimes.

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