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State speaker, seven others killed in war-torn Sudan

KHARTOUM, Jul 7 – The speaker of the legislature in Sudan’s war-torn South Kordofan state has been killed in an ambush along with seven other people, official media reported, as rebels in the region denied any involvement.

Ibrahim Balandiya died in the attack on Friday in Habila district of the state’s north, the official SUNA news agency reported.

The other “martyrs” included Faisal Bashir, secretary-general of the strategic planning council, drivers and a photographer, SUNA reported, blaming the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

But the rebels on Saturday told AFP they had “no relation with that” ambush.

“Maybe there is conflict within the NCP (which) could be a motivation behind that incident,” said Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

He was referring to the ruling National Congress Party.

Ethnic insurgents of the SPLM-N fought alongside southern rebels during Sudan’s 22-year civil war, which ended in a 2005 peace deal and South Sudan’s independence on July 9 last year.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting the SPLM-N, a charge which foreign analysts believe despite denials by the government in Juba.

Fighting erupted in South Kordofan after the SPLM-N alleged fraud in elections and its armed wing was ordered to move into South Sudan.

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A similar war began last September in Blue Nile state.

More than 200,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile have crossed into South Sudan and Ethiopia, and thousands more “in a desperate state” are following each day, UN emergency relief coordinator Valerie Amos said in late June.

The government, citing security factors, has tightly controlled access by foreign agencies to both states although it says it accepts a plan put together by the UN, African Union and Arab League for aid to reach South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

But Amos said the Khartoum government “has laid out operational conditions that do not allow for the delivery of assistance by neutral parties in SPLM-N controlled areas.”

Last year the SPLM-N joined insurgents from the Darfur region in a Revolutionary Front aimed at overthrowing the Khartoum regime.


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