(Updates with rebel comment in fourth paragraph.)
Nov. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Sudan’s army captured the rebel stronghold of Kurmuk in the southern Blue Nile state, forcing troops loyal to former governor Malik Agar to flee, the Defense Ministry said.
Combatants from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-North “fled fighting, leaving behind their arms,” army spokesman al- Sawarmi Khaled said in a statement published on the ministry’s website. “Kurmuk is finally back to the Sudanese people.”
Agar is the state leader of the northern branch of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which is the ruling party in South Sudan. After the south’s secession in July, the SPLM-N became an independent party in Sudan. The authorities in Khartoum have banned it.
The loss of Kurmuk is “one battle,” Yasir Arman, secretary- general of the SMLM-N, said in a phone interview from Kampala, the Ugandan capital. “Winning the war is different from winning the battle. The SPLM-N is an experienced guerrilla movement. Our army is intact, our equipment is intact.”
President Umar al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum has been battling insurgents in the border states of Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan in recent months as it attempts to disarm combatants who fought during a two-decade civil war with South Sudanese forces. Agar was fired as governor of Blue Nile in September after al-Bashir declared a state of emergency in the region amid clashes between government soldiers and SPLM-N fighters in Southern Kordofan.
“The National Congress has created a situation of thousands of displaced people,” Armin said. “They removed an elected government and declared a state of emergency. They destroyed a peace process and they are going to pay the price for the human rights violations and atrocities.”
Under a 2005 peace accord, northern and southern Sudan’s armies were to jointly patrol Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the northern side of the border and the disputed region of Abyei.
--Editors: Paul Richardson, Karl Maier.
To contact the reporters on this story: Salma El Wardany in Khartoum at email@example.com; Jared Ferrie in Juba via Nairobi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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