Hundreds of Rebels Dead in Clashes with Sudan Army

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Hundreds of SPLM-North rebels were killed in clashes with the Sudanese army in South Kordofan on Monday, said a local governor in Sudan's only oil producing state where the army is battling insurgents.

"Several hundred members of the movement were killed this day in an assault on the city of Teludi that was repelled by the armed forces," governor Ahmed Haroun said of South Kordofan, the scene of frequent clashes.

An army spokesman, Sawarmi Khaled Saad, said "this morning more than 700 rebel fighters together with 12 officers tried to attack Teludi (east of the provincial capital Kadugli) to occupy it."

"The armed forces waited for the invaders to arrive on three fronts with equipment and on several vehicles, but in an hour the armed forces and popular defense forces beat back the attack, causing heavy losses," he said.

South Kordofan remained under Khartoum's northern administration when South Sudan became independent in July, but violent clashes since June have pitted Nuba rebels once allied to southern rebels against the Sudanese army.

It is located on the border between Sudan and the new state of South Sudan, run by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

The clashes first erupted when the Khartoum government tried to disarm militiamen in the ethnically divided state, saying it would not tolerate the existence of two armies within its borders after the south separates.

Last month, the International Crisis Group warned the conflict in Sudan is spreading and that the government's efforts to crush the rebels in its southern border region could spark a wider civil war.

"With hundreds of thousands of people displaced ... the growing war on multiple fronts poses serious dangers for the country, for its future relationship with the Republic of South Sudan and for the stability of the region as a whole," said the think-tank.

Khartoum is engaged in military operations against rebel movements in three separate regions along Sudan's volatile border with the south, which gained full independence on July 9.

The impending loss of the south prompted what the think tank described as a "soft-coup" within Sudan's ruling National Congress Party by senior army generals, who outflanked the more pragmatic elements seeking a negotiated strategy and opted instead to remove their opponents militarily.

The conflict in South Kordofan state erupted just one month before southern secession, between the Sudanese army and Nuba militiamen who fought with the SPLA, the former rebel army of the south, during their decades-long war with the north.

The fighting, apparently triggered by the army's insistence on disarming the opposition SPLM-North, spilled into nearby Blue Nile state as the government moved to assert its authority within its new borders.

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