Sudanese Air Force Bombing Kills Six Christian Children

Plane drops bombs on crowded market, homes.

Thousands of Nuba Mountain civilians have taken refuge from government bombing in caves. (Diocese of El Obeid photo)

Thousands of Nuba Mountain civilians have taken refuge from government bombing in caves. (Diocese of El Obeid photo)

JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – The Sudanese Air Force on Thursday (Oct. 16) dropped bombs on Nuba Mountain civilians that killed at least six Christian children and seriously injured another.

In Heiban, South Kordofan, a Russian-made Antonov dropped five bombs – three on a crowded square during the weekly market day, and two others nearby, including one that hit a house where a Catholic family lived, sources said. The government is fighting a three-year battle against rebels in the Nuba Mountains, but there is no military presence in the area bombed, they said.

Playing outside their home when the first three bombs hit the market 50 meters away, four siblings from one Catholic family were running to foxholes common in the area when the fifth bomb struck their house and two others. A source told Morning Star News that the four children killed as they ran for cover were Anour Jafar, 8; Sariya Jafar, 12; Zahara Jafar 14; and Aziza Jafar, 16.

Another child from a Christian family, 6-year-old Kuku James, was also killed in the bombing, the source said.

Two other siblings of the four Catholic children killed, 5-year-old Nawal Jafar and 11-year-old Nawadir Jafar, were seriously injured, and Nawal died while en route to a hospital, a Christian aid worker said. Nawadir lost her sight in the blast.

“The older child, who sustained injuries on her head and eyes, is in critical condition” the aid worker said. “The child has lost her sight.”

Nuba Reports quoted a relative as saying the children’s mother had “gone out of her senses with grief as she was taken from the ruined home.” 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, reported that military activity increases as the rainy season ends.

“The hot sun dries the muddy earth, easing the way for travel and troop movements,” the organization reported. “Last year’s season was especially bloody, with almost 800 bombs dropped in the region.”

Killed in the market bombing was Eissa Majari Bagadi, a 27-year-old Nuba Muslim, the source told Morning Star News.

The area’s predominantly black ethnic Nuba people believe that since South Sudan split from Sudan in a 2011 referendum, the government’s goal of quashing Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) 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.

The previous week, Sudanese Air Force bombs destroyed an Episcopal Church of Sudan (now officially called the Province of the Episcopal Church of South Sudan and Sudan) complex on Oct. 10 in Tabolo, South Kordofan, church leaders said.

A Sudanese government soldier on July 12 shot a Christian, a member of the Episcopal Church, near his farm in South Kordofan state, seriously wounding him, church sources said. Akhnouk Jamal, 27, sustained wounds on his back and upper part of his stomach when a soldier opened fire on him as he picked wild fruit near his land in Losher, west of Al Atmor, a church source told Morning Star News.

Nuba Reports, based in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan’s South Kordofan state, has verified 1,969 bombs dropped by Sudan on civilians since April 2012. 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). 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.

Sudan’s bombing of civilian targets in the country’s Nuba Mountains in May and June killed at least 10 Christians, sources told Morning Star News. Four children and an elderly woman were among the victims of bombings. Church leaders and aid workers told Morning Star News that Sudan’s bombings of civilian areas in its war with the SPLA-N killed 14-year-old Abdo al Nour and Abdel Rahman Hassan, 15, in the village of Um Serdiba on June 13.

In the same area on May 20, according to the sources who requested anonymity, a Sudanese Air Force bombing killed 30-year-old Kimmia Calals of the Sudanese Church of Christ, leaving her nursing child motherless.

On June 17 in Tabalo village, a Sudanese bomb from an Antonov plane killed Yasin Salah, 16, and another minor, Ado al Sawaq, the sources said. On June 11 in the same village in Um Dorain County, 80-year-old Amira Ballula was killed when a plane dropped a bomb on her house, they said.

The bombing of civilian targets in South Kordofan state in May targeted the region’s only hospital and damaged an orphanage school and a relief agency, sources said. In Um Serdiba on May 18, Sife El Deen Ibrahim, 40, was killed immediately when a bomb from an 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.

In Kauda, Antonov planes dropped bombs on the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organization, the only humanitarian organization in South Kordofan, in late May, sources said. On May 29, bombing destroyed an orphanage school in Kauda, they said.

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