Photo: Some of the thousands of Nuba Mountain civilians who have taken refuge from government bombing in caves (Diocese of El Obeid photo)
JUBA, South Sudan (Morning Star News) – Non-Arab Christians in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains said they feel forgotten after Sudanese air forces killed at least 11 of the faithful in bombings before and after Christmas, according to area sources.
Following bombings of non-Arab civilians in Christian villages in Sudan’s South Kordofan state from Dec. 18 to Dec. 26, the ethnic Nuba Christians are praying for a change of government in Khartoum, said a church leader from the state who recently visited Juba.
“We are surprised why the international community is so silent about the killing in South Kordofan,” said the church leader, who requested anonymity.
On Wednesday (Dec. 26), Sudan’s Russian-made Antonov airplanes dropped nine bombs in Al Dar village in Buram County, killing two Christian women – 70-year-old Kuku Tia and 45-year-old Aisha Tutu Tolodi, the source said. The same attack struck a different Christian village, Um Serdiba in Buram County, where two Christian children were killed instantly, he said. They were identified as Rehab Adam Alfol, 8, and her 4-year-old sister, Najaha Adam Alfol.
According to online news portal Nuba Reports, at 12:30 a.m. of the same day Sudan dropped 12 bombs on Kauda town, wounding pastor Ayube Ibrahim and killing three cows. Nuba Reports, 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, reported that four churches in Kauda usually celebrate Christmas for three days starting Dec. 25.
The church leader who spoke to Morning Star News said area contacts reported that in Um Serdiba village on Dec. 23, a Sudanese bomb killed Sholi Jalbor, a Christian civilian whose house was reduced to ashes in the attack.
On Dec. 18, five people from one family were killed when an Antonov airplane dropped a bomb in Eire village that landed on a Christian family’s home, killing five of them, sources confirmed to the church leader. They identified the dead as 4-year-old girl Intisar Mubarak Sabil, 4-year-old boy Ramadan Mubarak, 7-year-old Nadia Ibrahim and 60-year-old Fatima Naway. Nuba Reports identified the fifth victim as 9-month-old Gamu Ibrahim.
Another family member, Regina Ibrahim, was wounded in the attack, according to the church leader.
On the afternoon of Christmas Day, according to Nuba Reports, an Antonov airplane dropped 10 bombs on the villages of Mendi and Kalkutta. No casualties were reported.
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.
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.
Sudan air forces are also targeting farms and animals, and Christian leaders in war-devastated South Kordofan are raising concerns to their counterparts around the world to pray for an end to the war.
c. 2012 Morning Star News. Used with permission.
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Publication date: January 2, 2013