Sudanese Rebels Claim Capture of Strategic Town
A rebel group in Sudan claimed Tuesday that its forces had “established firm control” over a town in the south, saying that most of the 800 government soldiers stationed there were killed, wounded or taken prisoner, reported the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN).
The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) said in a statement, cited by the news service, that “SPLA forces under Commander Pieng Deng Kuol had established firm control of the strategic garrison town of Raga, western Bahr Al Ghazal.”
SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje said in the statement that remnants of the army garrison had fled towards Boro on the border with Darfur, while local militia formerly backing the government had joined the SPLA in large numbers.
“Raga was taken by the SPLA at 10:30 am on Saturday morning,” he said.
The rebel movement appealed to residents of Raga to return to the town, and warned the government against escalating the war, said IRIN.
The group’s claim came three days after its leader, John Garang, and Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and agreed at a regional summit Saturday to work towards a comprehensive ceasefire in Sudan's 18-year-old civil war.
"The warring parties have committed themselves to work towards a comprehensive ceasefire agreement, but it was not possible to have it today," Kenyan Foreign Minister Bonya Godana had said after a regional peace summit hosted by President Daniel arap Moi.
Khartoum had unilaterally called a "comprehensive ceasefire" but it was rejected by the SPLA, which is made up of various animist and Christian tribes from southern Sudan that have been fighting domination by the Muslim north since 1983.
The war and attendant famine and disease have claimed up to 1.5 million lives, with at least another 4 million displaced – Albawaba.com
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