Monitor says north army masses in Sudan oil state

Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:02pm GMT

By Alex Dziadosz

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Satellite images taken on Friday showed northern Sudanese military vehicles including heavy transports and artillery massing in the capital of the conflict-stricken Southern Kordofan state, a monitor said.

Fighting between the northern military and southern-aligned groups has spread across the key north-run oil state since June 5. Tens of thousands have fled the violence, according to the United Nations.

The clashes have also raised tensions at a sensitive time in Sudan, with the south less than three weeks away from becoming an independent country following a January referendum.

"New imagery ... confirms that the Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, control the town of Kadugli in Sudan's tense border region of South Kordofan, and that thousands of civilians have been displaced," the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) said in a report.

The images "show a massing of SAF artillery, light vehicles, and heavy transports of the kinds used to carry tanks, troops, and munitions".

Set up last year by Hollywood actor George Clooney and other activists, the SSP says it seeks to head off renewed fighting and atrocities in Sudan by publishing commercial satellite images collated and analysed with the help of a U.N. agency.

A spokesman for the northern military was not immediately available to comment on the report. It has previously said its forces were fighting to end an armed rebellion in the state.

Southern Kordofan -- the main oil-producing state that will be left in the north after the south secedes on July 9 -- is home to thousands of fighters who fought against Khartoum during the last civil war, many of them from the Nuba mountains region.   Continued...

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