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Sudan rebels 'shoot down' air force bomber
by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) Nov 8, 2012

G.Bissau ex-premier denies role in counter-coup bid
Lisbon (AFP) Nov 08, 2012 - Guinea Bissau's former prime minister Carlos Gomes Junior, who was ousted in an April coup, denied Thursday the transition government's "absurd" accusations that he had instigated a recent foiled counter-coup.

"These are absurd accusations, a political arrangement. Our conscience is clear," Gomes Junior said at a press conference in Lisbon, where he was joined by ousted interim president Raimundo Pereira.

Last month, the government named Gomes Junior along with former colonial power Portugal and the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) of being behind the October 21 attack on an elite army baracks in Bissau that left seven people dead.

The west African nation's military has since arrested the alleged mastermind of the attack, Captain Pansau N'Tchama, a former associate of the ousted government.

The government was overthrown in an April coup that interrupted a presidential election in which Gomes Junior was leading after the first round vote.

Bissau has accused Portugal of wanting to re-install the ousted government, but a Portuguese foreign ministry spokesman said last month that Lisbon denies any manipulation of Guinea-Bissau's internal affairs.

The latest coup bid has caused further turmoil in a country that has suffered chronic instability since independence from Portugal in 1974 due to conflict between the army and the state.

Rebels in Sudan's war-torn South Kordofan state claimed on Thursday to have shot down an air force Antonov bomber, which they said crashed in flames along the undemarcated border near South Sudan.

Neither Sudan's military spokesman nor independent witnesses in the remote area, where access for journalists is restricted, could be reached for comment.

Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the insurgent Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), said the plane, flying at a relatively low altitude, was hit by fire from a heavy machinegun late on Wednesday afternoon.

"They shot at it until they saw the wing burning," Lodi told AFP. "Some people in the mountain saw the plane burning."

The bomber finally crashed near Jau, more than 50 kilometres (30 miles) further south, on the disputed border with South Sudan but in South Kordofan territory, Lodi said.

"It was burning all night," residents there reported after hearing an explosion, he added.

Rebels were headed to the crash site to take photographs, he said, adding that this was at least the second Antonov downed by them since fighting began in June 2011.

The insurgents have reported an upsurge in government bombing and fighting since Sudan and South Sudan signed in September a deal for a demilitarised border buffer zone designed to cut support for the insurgency.

The ethnic and religious-minority SPLM-N belongs to an alliance of Sudanese rebels seeking to overthrow the Islamist Khartoum regime.

Lodi said the insurgents intercepted communications from the Antonov pilot who indicated his plane had been hit.

Rebels have previously reported the capture from government forces of .50 calibre "Dushka" and 12.7 mm heavy machineguns.

Before it was hit, the Antonov bombed rebel-held Kauda town, as well as the Heiban and Habilla areas, Lodi added.

Nuba Reports, an activist website of "citizen reporters" in South Kordofan's Nuba Mountains battleground, said a "low-flying" Antonov dropped bombs near a weekly market in Kauda on Wednesday afternoon.

A bomb which fell on Heiban killed a rebel soldier, Mohammed Sied, while wounding a second rebel and one civilian, Nuba Reports wrote.

Lodi said a civilian, not a rebel, was killed.

In a separate incident early on Wednesday, rebels said they ambushed the army and killed 10 soldiers on the main road north from Kadugli, the South Kordofan capital.

Analysts say casualty figures from either side in the war should be treated with caution.

SPLM-N were allies of southern insurgents during Sudan's 22-year civil war, which ended with a 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan's independence in July last year.

Sudan has accused South Sudan of supporting the SPLM-N, a charge analysts believe despite denials by the government in Juba. The rebels are also fighting in Sudan's Blue Nile state.

More than 900,000 people are estimated to be displaced or severely affected by the fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the UN says, noting reports of serious food shortages and lack of adequate health care in rebel-held areas.

Sudan has cited security worries in tightly restricting the operations of foreign aid agencies and says there is no humanitarian crisis in the area.


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