May 25, 2012 / 5:14 PM / 8 years ago

Sudan says captures rebel stronghold in border state

KHARTOUM, May 25 (Reuters) - Sudan said its forces had captured two areas from rebels in its Blue Nile state on the border with South Sudan on Friday following days of heavy fighting.

Insurgents denied the claim, however, saying clashes were still continuing in the areas of Soda and Jam in Blue Nile state’s Ingessana Hills.

Fighting between rebels and Sudan’s armed forces has beset the country’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile border states since around the time of South Sudan’s secession last year.

The southern nation broke away from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war, but the division left tens of thousands of fighters who had sided with the South on the northern side of the border.

Khartoum accuses South Sudan of continuing to support the rebels. Juba denies this, but the fighting has nevertheless complicated efforts to resolve disputes between the two over issues like oil payments and the position of the border.

Sudan’s army retook the two areas after five days of fighting, the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre reported, citing Blue Nile’s deputy governor.

“The liberation of the rebel stronghold of Soda represents a major victory for the armed forces,” it said.

Arnu Lodi, a spokesman for the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army North (SPLA-N), denied the government’s claim, saying rebels still controlled those areas.

“There is still fighting going on in the same area,” he said.

Some 2 million people died in Sudan’s civil war, which was fought for most years between 1955 and 2005 over ideology, religion, ethnicity and oil. (Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz and Khalid Abdelaziz; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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