The Sudanese government has launched dozens of bombing raids on civilian areas in the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile in the last week.
The attacks come as the government approaches the negotiation table with SPLA-N for another round of talks in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Nuba Reports has confirmed 36 bombs dropped in the last ten days in South Kordofan. Two civilians were killed, and 12 wounded, including children. Meanwhile in Blue Nile state, a barrage of bombings killed a mother, and wounded three other civilians. The latest assaults brings the total number of bombs dropped on civilian targets to 2041.
Now, the Sudanese government is dropping its crude bombs inside South Sudan as well. Seven people were injured near Khor Tumbak in Upper Nile state by bombs dropped by an Antonov cargo plane. Increasingly, the conflicts in South Sudan and Sudan are becoming intertwined.
While the talks in Addis Ababa are more comprehensive than previous discussions, none of the negotiations have resulted in any actionable implementation. Many in the Nuba Mountains feel that talks are just a short term distraction tactic by the Sudanese government.
The discussions are being mediated by the former president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. Although Mr. Mbeki has visited Khartoum on numerous occasions, his plans to visit the rebel held areas have constantly been cancelled. In anticipation of his planned visit five months ago, Salima Omar from Kudi village told Nuba Reports, “We heard Mbeki is coming, so our women’s group at the church prepared a song for him. We want to tell him our problems.”
Mubarak Ardol the spokesperson for the SPLM-N negotiation team told Nuba Reports, “We talked to the AUHIP panel today about the bombings and asked what message the Sudanese negotiation team is sending us. But they did not respond.”
November marks the start of the dry season, and ground battles between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA-N are beginning. Already SAF has started to shell both military and civilian areas. The last fighting season displaced more than 100,000 people in the Nuba Mountains, after several major offensives by Sudan’s new Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Khartoum has indicated that this season will be even more active.
The most recent bombing took place yesterday at 4:00pm. An Antonov flew over a busy weekly market in the Nuba Mountains, dropping two bombs just as members of the African Union, Sudanese government and SPLA-N faced each other and gave their opening remarks in Addis Ababa. This is not the first time the SAF has bombed rebel-held territories on the opening day of peace talks. In February 2014 a Sudanese Sukhoi-24 dropped 18 bombs in the village of Tabanya in South Kordofan.
Over the last month SAF has repeatedly bombed weekly markets that are known to happen each week at a specific time and are easily visible as civilian areas from the air. Yesterday’s bombing was the 2041st bomb that Nuba Reports has confirmed since April 2012.