Sudanese military accuses rebel group of breaking ceasefire, group denies

KHARTOUM, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The Sudanese military accused one of the country’s largest rebel groups on Wednesday of stoking ongoing violence in the country’s West Kordofan state in breach of a three-year ceasefire, a charge a leader of the group denied.

Members of the Miseriya and Nuba tribes have clashed since Friday over a land dispute in the town of Lagawa, near territory controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North led by Abdelaziz al-Hilu.

Fighting continued on Tuesday, the UN said, with shelling coming from the nearby mountains. At least 12 people were killed and 20 wounded as of Sunday and at least 4,000 displaced by burning and looting, it said.

On Wednesday, the military accused the SPLM-N of launching mortar shells towards Lagawa, wounding two members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, and attacking soldiers from the army.

It was the largest flare up in tensions with the SPLM-N, which controls territory in West Kordofan and elsewhere in southern Sudan, since it signed a ceasefire in 2019 after fighting the military under former President Omar al-Bashir.

“What happened is considered a clear violation of the ceasefire and end of hostilities agreement,” the military said. “The armed forces will not hesitate to deal with any violation or aggression to ensure the safety and peace of all citizens.”

A leader of the rebel group denied the accusations to Reuters, saying they were baseless. The SPLM-N said earlier that Miseriya militias aided by Rapid Support Forces had attacked people from the Nuba tribes. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz, writing by Nafisa Eltahir; editing by Philippa Fletcher)