1985 - -Unleashing "Civilian Devastation"
 Umma Party defends record
 Wrangle Over "Private Armies"
 Assaults Begin on Dinka Villages
 Child Hire
 Ad-Da'ein massacre
 The Nuba
 Child Servitude
 Colonel X's trophies
 Ngeth's children
The civil war was gathering momentum. In July 1985 the SPLA attacked the Arab town of al-Gardud - their first incursion into Southern Kordofan. 

The Defence Minister in the transitional government, retired Major-General Fadlaila Burma Nasser, had close links to a section of the Meseriya at Muglad, South Kordofan. He began to channel modern weapons, vehicles and other supplies to clans within the Mescriya and Rezeigat, after militant tribal chiefs including Nazir Debeka and local politician al-Hureika lzzeddin held a series of meetings to urge him to assist them. Top

Officially these arms were to enable the Baggara to.protect themselves against SPLA insurgence, principally from the Dinka border lands of northern Bahr al-Ghazal, and also from the Nuba Mountains. In practice they gave the Baggara "Murahleen" (literally "nomads") superior firepower in their age-old competition for survival with the Dinka. 

After several decades of relative equilibrium, relations between the Dinka and Baggara were worsening dramatically, driven by local drought conditions and conflict over dwindling resources as much as the wider war. 

The SPLA was led by John Garang, a Dinka, and was assumed by the Baggara to be a Dinka movement. By providing arms for unofficial Baggara militias, the government turned traditional tribal hostilities to political ends, and opened the way for devastation of civilian populations. Top

The militias, encouraged by government officials and assisted through the army, launched a three-year campaign of terror against the Dinka people of Bahr al-Ghazal in 1985. 

Thousands were killed, captured or enslaved before the end of 1988, when the Dinka and the SPLA belatedly strengthened their defence of the area and reached local reconciliation agreements with Baggara chiefs. Top

THE UMMA PARTY says: "First let us put the record straight.

1- The policy of the democratically elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi was for peace through a negotiated settlement and not to escalate the war. Therefore through negotiations a ceasefire was reached in the last seven months of the democratic government and agreement was agreed upon. The military takeover came to power to stop that peace agreement. 

2- No civilian had been armed during the democratic government time to fight the SPLA or any body else. 

3- It was the transitional government of Swar a]-Dahab and Gizouli Dafalla together with the trade unions that gave arms to some tribesmen to defend themselves against the Nuba/SPLA after the attacks on Algardoud and other villagers in the Nuba mountains, in 1985. 

4- Fadlalla Burma Nasser was then a member of the TMC [transitional military council]."   (Umma Party Information Office UK, October 1996) Top