by Staff Writers
Khartoum (AFP) Jan 12, 2013
Sudan's army claims to have killed more than 50 rebels in clashes in South Kordofan state, the official Sudanese news agency SUNA reported late Friday.
Government troops had pushed back an attack by rebels in the region, killing more than 50 and suffering some dead and wounded themselves, SUNA reported, citing an army statement.
The clashes took place some 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the state capital Kadugli, the army said, blaming the attack on fighters of the Revolutionary Front, an alliance of four rebel groups.
The groups that make up the Front are active in South Kordofan, in Blue Nile state to the east and in Darfur to the west.
The conflict in South Kordofan and the neighbouring Blue Nile state has had a devastating effect on local people, a top United Nations official told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
Hundreds of thousands of people there are surviving on roots and leaves, UN humanitarian operations director John Ging said. Both Sudan's government and the rebels are blocking access to international aid workers, he added.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile border South Sudan, which separated from Sudan in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended a 1983-2005 civil war.
Khartoum accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels operating in Sudan, including the 19-month rebellion in oil-producing South Kordofan. The South, in turn, says Sudan backs insurgents on its territory.
The issue has been a major obstacle to implementing agreements between the two countries. Key unresolved issues between the two countries include the demarcation of border zones that cut through oil-rich regions.
US mulls aid to French in Mali, including drones
Commanders were considering a range of options, including logistical backup and bolstering the sharing of intelligence, which would involve US surveillance drones, the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Backed by French air power, Mali on Friday unleashed an offensive against Islamist rebels who have seized control of the north of the West African country and are now threatening to push south.
President Francois Hollande confirmed in Paris that French forces were supporting an attack aimed at repelling the Al-Qaeda-linked radicals who have triggered international alarm with moves towards the capital Bamako.
Hollande gave no indication of the scale of French involvement, but said it would last "for as long as is necessary."
The American official told AFP that senior US officials were now engaged in discussions with their counterparts in the French capital and other allies on drawing up an action plan.
The American military has a network of air bases in Italy, Spain and elsewhere in the region that could provide refueling tankers and other assistance to the French.
Former colonial power France has warned that the Islamist rebels were seeking to transform the vast nation into a "terrorist state."
Earlier Friday, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian briefed his US counterpart Leon Panetta about the situation.
Troops from Nigeria, Senegal, France back Mali: army
"As we speak to you, troops from Nigeria, Senegal and France are in support of the Malian army in Sevare," in central Mali, Colonel Oumar Dao told a press conference in the capital Bamako.
"These troops arrived with the materiel needed to counter the situation," said Dao, the head of military operations for the army's chief of staff.
The move occurred as the Malian army on Friday launched a counter-offensive to recover the central town of Konna that was captured Thursday by the Islamists.
He gave no details on the number of troops, or the quantity and type of materiel deployed.
"Other friendly countries have already come forward and we are waiting for them," Dao said without elaborating.
Discussing the situation in Konna, he said: "It's the start of military operations. There's an offensive and we have put on our side the means needed to recapture the town."
Earlier Friday, another army officer told AFP that the counter-offensive was conducted from Sevare, a community situated about 70 kilometers south of Konna where the Malian army has an operational command post.
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