Private Satellite Reveals Preparation for Conflict

Sudan has deployed a heavily armoured brigade along a road leading to an armed opposition group’s stronghold in Blue Nile State and may be poised to launch an attack, a satellite monitoring activist group said on Friday {Sept. 23, 2011}.  The SPLM-North opposition group said the Sudanese air force had conducted attacked an area in Blue Nile where fighting broke out between the army and opposition earlier this month.Washington-based Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said at least 3,000 troops were “pointed south” along the road to Kurmuk, a town near the Ethiopian border which is seen as a SPLM-North stronghold.

Satellite images captured on September 21 and analysed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, showed a “wall of armour” near Dindiro, a town around 64 kilometers (40 miles) from Kurmuk, said SSP which was founded by actor George Clooney and other activists.  The group said it had identified what appeared to be main battle tanks, towed artillery, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers and troop transporters, apparently accompanied by six Hind attack helicopters.  The Sudanese army could not be reached for comment.

Events in Blue Nile are difficult to verify because most foreign media cannot travel there and aid agencies complain of a lack of access to fighting areas.  On Thursday, new clashes broke out in Blue Nile’s neighbouring state of South Kordofan where the army is also fighting SPLM-North groups.  Both border states are home to large populations which sided with South Sudan during decades of civil war and found themselves in north Sudan after the South became independent on July 9 under a 2005 peace deal.  Khartoum accuses its former civil war foe of supporting the armed opposition in the two border states. Juba denies the charges.

Excerpt, Sudan deploys troops, tanks in border state: group, Reuters Africa, Sep 24, 2011

 

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