AO-2.5RT submunition

Sudanese Armed Forces (Saf) allegedly dropped cluster bombs on civilian areas of Southern Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains in February and March according to claims by the Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Hpw reported that the Sudanese Air Force has repeatedly bombed civilian areas, often killing or maiming civilians, destroying homes and crops, as well as damaging schools, clinics and other civilian property, in the four years since the start of the crisis in 2011.

During their visit to Southern Kordofan in April, HRW researchers found evidence of six cluster bombs, including remnants of weapons such as dud explosive submunitions, which were reportedly dropped by government aircraft on villages in Delami and Um Durein counties.

According to witnesses, the government aircraft dropped four bombs on the village of Rajeefi, in Um Durein county, in late February, followed by two more on the village of Tongoli, in Delami county on 6 March.

Human Rights Watch Africa director Daniel Bekele said: "The evidence that Sudan’s army has used cluster bombs in Southern Kordofan shows the government’s total disregard for its own people and civilian life.

"Sudan should immediately stop using these horrendous weapons, destroy its stockpiles, and respect the prohibition on cluster munitions by joining the Convention on Cluster Munitions."

The munitions are believed to be Soviet-made RBK-500 cluster bombs, containing AO-2.5 RT fragmentation submunitions, the same kind found by HRW in the region in 2012.

"Evidence that Sudan’s army has used cluster bombs in Southern Kordofan shows the government’s total disregard for its own people."

A representative for the Sudanese Government rejected allegations that the government used cluster munitions in Southern Kordofan during a Cluster Munition Coalition meeting in April 2014. The representative claimed that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army North (SPLA-N) were responsible for the munitions and announced that the Sudan could join the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, if neighbouring countries did so.

HPW also alleged that the government has continued to bomb civilian areas indiscriminately throughout the region, with Sudanese monitors claiming that a government Antonov aircraft had bombed Tongoli in April, killing seven people and injuring four, despite absence of rebel forces in the area.

In addition, HRW researchers documented more than 15 bombings, some of them purposefully directed onto civilian targets, which have killed or injured civilians and humanitarian workers since early 2014.

Since June 2011, the Sudanese military has been fighting SPLA-N in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states, which border South Sudan that gained independence during the following month.

Image: Two AO-2.5RT submunitions found near the village of Ongolo in Southern Kordofan, Sudan. Photo: Copyright 2012 Aris Roussinos.