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Blue Nile: Sudan's new war zone

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Blue Nile: Sudan's new war zone

Post by shammy on Thu Sep 08, 2011 7:54 am


The capital of Sudan's Blue Nile state, Damazin, is firmly under the control of the government - this is made clear by the soldiers ululating a victory song from next to their truck-mounted machine guns.

In Damazin, at least, the government soldiers seemed to have defeated rebels loyal to the opposition SPLM-North party in last week's fighting.

The rebels are now largely grouped in the south around their traditional stronghold, Kurmuk, with battles continuing along a shifting front line.

But burned by previous criticism for denying access to the similar conflict in the neighbouring state of South Kordofan, the Sudanese government brought journalists to Damazin for a controlled tour.

'Back to normal'

The state governor, and other authorities, were keen to stress life in Damazin was getting back to normal.

Gen Yahia Mohamed Kheir was appointed by President Omar al-Bashir after he called a state of emergency in Blue Nile, and sacked the elected governor, Malik Agar.

Mr Agar is the head of the SPLM-North party - and the man now leading the rebels in the state.

Many of them fought with the SPLM during Sudan's long north-south conflict, which resulted in July's SPLM-led independence for South Sudan, but they now find themselves north of the new international border.

"The security situation is very good, electricity, the hospitals and water are fine," the new governor Gen Kheir said.

He announced the number of deaths in Damazin in the fighting had not been in the hundreds - he put the total at 12 dead soldiers, six policemen and three civilians, as well as an unspecified number of rebels.

But he admitted clashes were continuing 30km (20 miles) south of Damazin.

I pressed him on claims made by SPLM-North and refugees who have fled to Ethiopia that civilians had been killed by aerial bombardments in Kurmuk and elsewhere in the last few days.

"We have never seen a single civilian killed in those bombardments, if there are any," he said.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14805247

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