KHARTOUM (AFP) – Rebels in Sudan’s South Kordofan, where fighting intensified in recent weeks, on Wednesday released photographs of a downed helicopter gunship which they said they shot down.
The Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army-North (SPLA-N) have previously claimed to have downed government aircraft during the three-year war but they have not provided evidence.
The authenticity of the photographs could not independently verify, and Sudan’s military spokesman could not be immediately reached.
SPLA-N spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi said rebels obtained the images from “sources” at the site which was heavily guarded by government troops after the crash on June 28 in the Dilling area of South Kordofan.
It was brought down by rebel machinegun fire, he told AFP.
“SPLA-N hereby confirming that its air force defence unit managed to shoot down NCP air force helicopter gunship”, a separate rebel statement said, referring to Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party.
The photographs show left-side views of the helicopter’s fuselage which has crashed on scrubland, damaging the undercarriage, rocket pod, and main rotor.
On June 29 the rebels and government troops engaged in heavy fighting in the Al-Atmur area, 45 kilometres (30 miles) from the capital Kadugli.
The Sudanese Armed Forces said they defeated the rebel advance that day and continued to hold the area.
Lodi said rebels on Wednesday were shelling government positions in Al-Atmur.
Fighting in South Kordofan has intensified over the past couple of months.
Like the 11-year conflict in Sudan’s Darfur, the South Kordofan war has been fuelled by complaints among non-Arab groups of neglect and discrimination by the Arab-dominated regime in Khartoum.
More than one million people have been affected by the fighting there and a smaller-scale conflict in Blue Nile state.