Sudan’s Bombing of Nuba Mountain Civilians Kills Christian

Sudanese Air Force launches most sustained bombing since conflict erupted.

Sudanese Air Force bomber. (Nuba Reports)

Sudanese Air Force bomber. (Nuba Reports)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – The Sudanese Air Force bombed several civilian targets in South Kordofan state this month, killing at least one Christian, targeting the region’s only hospital and damaging an orphanage school and a relief agency, sources said.

Before dropping 60 bombs the past four days in areas around Kauda – termed the most concentrated bombing of civilian targets since the conflict erupted three years ago – Sudan last week bombed civilian targets around Kadugli, the state capital 57 miles away. In Umserdba on May 18, Sife El Deen Ibrahim, 40, was killed immediately when a bomb from a Russian-made Antonov jet hit the Christian’s house, an area church member requesting anonymity told Morning Star News.

Ibrahim left a widow and four children, ages 12, 15, 17 and 20, who were dependent on him for their livelihood, she said.

Though in tears, Ibrahim’s 25-year-old nephew held out hope through his faith in Christ.

“My uncle was cruelly killed, and this is a great loss, but we will see him in Heaven with Jesus,” he told Morning Star News.

Though the Kadugli area is rebel-held, it has no military installations, sources said.

In Kauda, regarded as the de facto capital of South Kordofan state, Antonov planes dropped bombs on the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization (NRRDO), the only humanitarian organization in South Kordofan, earlier this week, sources said.

“One hit the main building, destroying three offices and the equipment inside,” reported online news portal Nuba Reports. “The other five fell near the structure. No civilians were injured or killed.”

NRRDO is a local Nuban organization that provides food, supplies and support for people affected by the bombings, according to Nuba Reports, run by aid worker Ryan Boyette, who remained in South Kordofan after his Christian humanitarian organization was forced to evacuate when military conflict escalated in 2011.

Humanitarian access is blocked in areas controlled by the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N), and the NRRDO services are vital to the community, according to Nuba Reports.

Yesterday (May 29), the bombing continued throughout the day, destroying an orphanage school in Kauda, area sources said.

There is no military installation near the area, they said.

Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, Nuba people in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arabs and Christianity. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture.

Catholic Hospital Bombed

The Sudanese Air Force on May 1 bombed the campus of the only hospital in South Kordofan, terrorizing patients and staff at Mother of Mercy Hospital, run by the Diocese of El-Obeid in the Gidel area, sources told Morning Star News.

The Sukhoi-24 fighter bombed the hospital grounds at 10 a.m.

“The jet dropped five bombs in a straight line between the staff quarters and the hospital,” according to Nuba Reports. “Nobody was killed, but in a matter of minutes the hospital was emptied. Hundreds of patients and visitors fled into the bush, or caves in nearby mountains.”

The hospital, built to hold 80 patients, has been averaging around 400 patients since the conflict began.

Both staff and the patients in the hospital remain worried the hospital might be targeted again.

This is the first time Sudan Air Force has targeted a hospital since the war broke out in South Kordofan in June 2011. Sudan Air Forces have hit houses, schools, churches, mosques and marketplaces.

The bombings have forced the patients to leave the hospital early in the morning and return at night for treatment.

On May 2 at 8 a.m., patients sleeping in the bush awoke to the drone of an Antonov bomber, and hospital staff dove into foxholes, according to Nuba Reports. It dropped eight more bombs, but they landed a couple miles away, injuring an elderly man near his house.

Initially staff hoped the May 1 bombing was a mistake, but hospital officials believe the presence of a drone the week before, the accuracy and height of the Sukhoi jet, and the Antonov that followed were no coincidence, according to Nuba Reports.

Thousands of civilians have taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves in South Kordofan, which borders South Sudan. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.

The rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The growing rebel movement in the Nuba Mountains has sparked tensions, and Sudan reportedly bombed civilians in the South Sudan state of North Bahr El Ghazal on Nov. 20-22, 2012, killing seven.

Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.

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