350 houses set ablaze in Sudan

2011-04-19 16:02

Khartoum - Satellite images have confirmed the burning of some 350 houses in a deadly attack on a village in Sudan's South Kordofan border state, where gubernatorial elections will be held next month, a monitoring group said.

"The Satellite Sentinel Project has confirmed the razing of more than 350 structures at El-Faid village in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan," the US monitoring group said late on Monday.

"SSP analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows evidence consistent with the intentional burning of at least 356 structures at El-Faid."

On Thursday, Sudan's Popular Defence Forces attacked El-Faid, the village of South Kordofan Deputy Governor Abdelaziz al-Hilu, killing 17 people, including two women and five children who burned to death inside their homes, Hilu told AFP.

He accused his rival, ruling National Congress Party (NCP) Governor Ahmed Harun, of organising the attack by the paramilitary forces.

He said 300 to 500 homes were torched, and that hundreds of families were sheltering in schools and with friends as a result.

Harun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the war-torn western Sudanese region of Darfur, did not respond to the allegations.

But a senior NCP official said the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army was responsible for the attack in the northern state, without offering an explanation.

South Kordofan's gubernatorial and state assembly elections are due on May 2 after being delayed by a year. The SPLM, the ruling party of the south, of which Hilu is a member, objected to a 2008 census, which grossly underestimated the state's population.

SPLM officials have already accused the PDF, a militia now part of the Sudanese army, of attacking its supporters in the flashpoint border district of Abyei, whose future status is a hotly contested issue in the run-up to southern independence in July.