On May 28th, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) based in Al Azrak sent over 100 troops in 18 technicals and two tanks to attack Guru, an abandoned town 2 kilometers away.
It was a surprising and bold move by the SAF troops who took the town over a month ago. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army- North (SPLA-N) forces stationed on Guru mountain were able to push them back after a fierce 4-5 hour firefight. But not before the government troops entered the town and destroyed several buildings.
“When the tank entered Guru, they shot and destroyed the school [and] started burning houses,” said SPLA-N Major Kanar Lodi Tutu. This is the second school targeted by SAF in the last week. A few days ago a Primary school in a civilian area was bombed by the Sudan Air Force.
Eventually, the SAF forces retreated back to their garrison base in Al-Azrak. During the retreat, one government tank drove over a water pump while another became stuck in the encroaching mud. This is a common occurrence as the area’s rainy season approaches. There are only a few weeks left that trucks and tanks will be able to maneuver in the terrain. Shortly after the tank was stuck, the Sudan air-force sent an Antonov fighter to push back rebel fighters as they dragged the muddied tank back to Al-Azrak said the major.
SPLA-N rebels believe 2,000 troops are bunkered down in Al-Azrak, which is surrounded, by trenches and large caliber machine guns. This makes it easy for SAF to defend, however, it is also extremely difficult for SAF to re-supply. It is expected that either SAF will attempt a larger scale attack on other towns, or SPLA-N will attempt to take back Al-Azrak in the next two weeks before the rains halt all fighting. Towns around Al-Azrak such as Guru and Jegaiba have been deserted of civilians, already displaced from the nearby, ongoing conflict in Al-Azrak that started in March, according to several displaced residents in the neighboring village to Al Azrak, Hajar Bako.
Meanwhile residents of the area worry about being able to access their fields in the region around Al Azrak, one of the most fertile in the Nuba Mountains. If they are unable to plant by the end of June then the region will see a major shortfall in food supplies in the fall.
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