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Christians Killed, Church Building Destroyed in Sudan Bombing

Christians Killed, Church Building Destroyed in Sudan Bombing

Photo: Some of the thousands of Nuba Mountain civilians who have taken refuge from government bombing in caves (Diocese of El Obeid photo)

KHARTOUM, Sudan, November 29 (Morning Star News) -- The Sudanese military in the last two weeks has bombed more non-Arab people in largely Christians areas of the Nuba Mountains – killing three Christians, destroying two relief agency structures and demolishing a Catholic church building, sources said.

Dawla Angalo, 60, a member of the Catholic church in Heiban, died in a Nov. 17 bombing of the town in South Kordofan state; sources told Morning Star News that she died on a road as she was being rushed to a hospital. The bombing also killed 40-year-old Khamisa Kuku, whom a local source said was a Christian woman, in the attack on civilian homes and other non-military buildings. 

The same bomb attack by a Russian-made Antonov airplane injured Mariam Hamdan (not Miraim Amdan as in one published report), 55, breaking both her legs and seriously wounding one of them, sources said.

Four Sudanese government bombs hit Al Reka village also on Nov. 17, killing Suliman Kuku, a 42-year-old Christian, area sources said. A 6-year-old girl unrelated to him who was injured in the attack, Nadia Tutu, is also a Christian, they said. Three houses including that of Kuku were destroyed in the bombing, according to online news portal Nuba Reports.

“It is very sad – we are losing our members,” said an area pastor who requested anonymity. 

An Antonov airplane dropped six bombs on the predominately Christian town of Heiban on Nov. 20, with three of them hitting the town’s crowded weekly market and one destroying the Catholic Church building. Mohammod Idris, 25, and Stephen Yousif, 23, were wounded in the attack, according to Nuba Reports, and an area source told Morning Star News they are Christians.

“They are targeting churches – they destroyed the Bible school last time, and now the Catholic church,” said the pastor. Heiban Bible College was reduced to ashes on Feb. 1 from an Antonov plane bombing.

Since South Sudan split from Sudan in a referendum last year, ethnic Nuba peoples in Sudan’s South Kordofan state believe the government’s goal of quashing Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) rebels is also meant to rid the area of non-Arab peoples and Christianity.

In the town of Kauda on Nov. 21, a government airplane dropped 14 bombs, some of which destroyed two buildings of an unidentified aid agency, according to Nuba Reports. The bombs also demolished the homes of Hamid Kuwa, Walid Ali, Taballa Khamis, and Awad Khalil, according to Nuba Reports; the news portal noted that 25-year-old Enas Azhari and Manal Kuwa, 32, sustained minor injuries; a Morning Star News source said they are Christians.

Run by aid worker Ryan Boyette, who remained in South Kordofan after his Christian humanitarian organization was forced to evacuate when military conflict escalated last year, Nuba Reports’ stated goal is to credibly report attacks on civilians, as the government has forbidden media and aid agencies access to the area.

Several bombs were dropped with the apparent aim of destroying food sources of SPLA-N rebels in the area, which also affected civilian supplies. Eight bombs hitting the village of Tess in Buram County on Nov. 15 killed eight cows, which Nuba Reports described as a key source of income and food for the Nuba people.

Since military conflict began in June 2011, the Sudanese military has bombed Nuba churches, schools and farms, with most civilian deaths taking place where witnesses told Human Rights Watch there was no evident military target or rebel soldier, according to an August New York Review of Books article.

Thousands of civilians have reportedly taken refuge in Nuba Mountain caves. The Nuba people have longstanding complaints against Khartoum – including neglect, oppression and forced conversions to Islam in a 1990s jihad – but as Sudanese citizens on the northern side of the border, they were never given the option of secession in the 2005 peace pact between northern and southern Sudan.

The SPLA-N rebels in the Nuba Mountains were formerly involved with the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces fighting Khartoum before the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The SPLA’s political arm, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), now governs South Sudan, and a border conflict has kept the two Sudans on the verge of another full-scale war since June 2011. The growing rebel movement in the Nuba Mountains has sparked tensions, and Sudan reportedly bombed civilians in the South Sudan state of North Bahr El Ghazal on Nov. 20-22, killing seven.

Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan broke out in June 2011, when Khartoum forcefully attempted to disarm the SPLA-N in South Kordofan by force rather than awaiting a process of disarmament as called for in the CPA. When the CPA was signed in 2005, the people of South Kordofan were to vote on whether to join the north or the south, but the state governor suspended the process.

The disputed election of Ahmed Haroun as state governor – many in South Kordofan consider him a Khartoum appointment – helped trigger military conflict in 2011.

Nuba Mountain Christians increasingly feel they are being driven into South Sudan, especially as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said post-secession Sudan will adhere more exclusively to Islam and Arabic culture, sources said.

c. 2012 Morning Star News. Used with permission.

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