Sudan: October 15, 2002


: It's time to reload in the Sudan. On 14 October, the government and rebels failed to reach agreement on the terms of a temporary ceasefire agreement. The rebels' bone of contention concerned the eastern front along the Eritrean border, which the government wanted excluded from the agreement. The rebels wanted to include all of Sudan, before the official resumption of peace talks in Kenya began. 

On the 15th, the rebels announced that they had signed the agreement and that both parties were committed to ceasing hostilities throughout the country for the duration of the talks, as well as ensure a military stand-down of their respective forces "including allied forces and affiliated militia". Both sides would signal this to their respective forces, which would come into effect at midday on the 17th. The talks were expected to last until 16 November.

The recent campaigns have been something of a seesaw: the Sudanese Army captured the key town of Torit on 8 October, at the same time the rebels claimed to have cut the main highway linking Khartoum to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The government's massive campaign (a combined force of about 1,500 regular Government troops and militia) moved down from Juba and during the seven days of heavy fighting, the rebels claim to have shot down two helicopter gunships and one MiG 29. 

The army also claimed to have retaken four locations in the eastern Sudan's Southern Blue Nile area (on the border with Ethiopia). The Fourth Division "inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy in personnel and seized all its arms and equipment" and vowed to recapture Hamashkoreib, near Eritrea. After government troops retook Torit, Khartoum suspended peace talks being held in Kenya. 

The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army 20th Independent Command special commando forces (under the order of Commander George Athor Deng) destroyed the main oil well at Heglig, in southern Sudan's Western Upper Nile, on 29 September. This was done to stop the flow of the oil from Southern Sudan to the North and frustrate the Khartoum government from earning revenue from oil exploration in the area. - Adam Geibel


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