North Sudan vows to fight on in border oil state

Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:25am GMT

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - North Sudan's army vowed on Thursday to continue fighting against southern-aligned groups in the oil-producing border state of Southern Kordofan to end what it calls an armed rebellion.

Fighting broke out in the northern state on June 5 and has escalated to include artillery and warplanes. Over 60,000 people are believed to have fled the fighting, the United Nations said.

Both U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon have called for an immediate ceasefire in Southern Kordofan, where humanitarian groups fear a mounting death toll.

Northern military spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled told reporters the army would continue to fight militants around the state capital of Kadugli and elsewhere.

"We are continuing our military operations in the mountains around Kadugli up to this moment, until the rebellion stops," he told reporters in Khartoum.

The United Nations urged north Sudan's military to open up airspace over Southern Kordofan, saying a six-day closure was endangering its aid operations there.

"The ongoing closure of the airspace in Southern Kordofan by SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) is dangerously hampering our humanitarian operations as thousands of internally displaced persons are in urgent need of emergency assistance," U.N. Mission in Sudan spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said.

"It is vital that the government of Sudan acts immediately to ensure access to all airspace by U.N. flights to alleviate the growing suffering of those most affected by conflict."

The London-based group Save the Children said in a statement 30,000 of the displaced were children "at risk of being separated from their families, traumatised and abused".   Continued...

<p>Residents gather outside UNMIS sector headquarters in Kadugli town June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Paul Banks/UNMIS/Handout</p>
Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.