Sudan rebel offensive to disrupt elections: spokesman

Sudan People's Liberation Army –North soldiers walk in Mufalu, South Kordofan state, Sudan on April 6, 2012 (AFP Photo/)

Khartoum (AFP) - Sudanese insurgents said Friday they had launched an offensive in war-torn South Kordofan to try to disrupt nationwide elections due next month, which the army said it repelled.

The Sudan People's Liberation Army-North launched "lightning operations" against garrisons in Kalogi, Tusi and Rahmaniya towns in the south and east of the region Thursday, spokesman Arnu Lodi said in a statement.

The goal was to integrate "the various means of struggle, armed uprising and civil disobedience, to work together to stop the elections" due in April, Lodi said.

President Omar al-Bashir has been battling an insurgency in South Kordofan and neighbouring Blue Nile states since 2011, when the SPLA-N mounted a revolt, complaining of being marginalised by his Arab-dominated government.

But the army said it had repulsed the attack and inflicted heavy losses on the rebel forces.

"The remnants of the SPLA-N insurgents lost many fighters and a large quantity of their equipment and the vehicles they used in this attack that was repulsed by the armed forces," spokesman Colonel Al-Sawarmy Khaled Saad told state news agency SUNA on Thursday.

Neither the army nor the insurgents gave further details.

It was the first time the SLPA-N has announced an operation openly aimed at derailing the legislative and presidential elections scheduled for April 13.

Its political wing signed the Sudan Call agreement aimed at uniting the opposition in Addis Ababa in December, along with political parties, civil society organisations and other armed groups.

Some of these groups have launched a campaign calling on Bashir to stand down, called "Leave".

Other signatories did not immediately comment on the offensive.

Bashir, 71, seized power in a 1989 Islamist-backed coup and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in the war torn western region of Darfur.

He is widely expected to win reelection, as the mainstream opposition is boycotting the polls.

Last week, Bashir held a rally in the South Kordofan capital, Kadugli, vowing to bring peace either through talks or a military victory.

His forces have been pressing an offensive in the area dubbed "Decisive Summer 2" since November.