By Jason Straziuso Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — Sudanese war planes deliberately targeted a Catholic hospital in bombing runs made over two days in a region of southern Sudan where government troops and rebel forces are fighting, an American doctor and Catholic bishop said Monday.
Dr. Tom Catena, a surgeon who works at the hospital in a region of southern Sudan known as the Nuba Mountains, said a Sukhoi Su-24 fighter jet dropped five bombs on the hospital on Thursday and that an Antonov dropped six bombs on Friday, causing what he said were “moderate casualties.”
“This constitutes an obvious war crime as we are a civilian hospital taking care of all comers,” Catena said by email. “There is no military installation anywhere near us and we are quite far from the front lines. There is no doubt they were targeting the hospital and they know very well who we are.”
A Sudan military spokesman did not respond to calls and text messages about the allegations. Mustafa Osman Ismail, the secretary for political affairs, told the independent newspaper Al Migahar in a story published Monday that as long as no agreement has been reached with rebels, military operations will continue.
Bishop Macram Max Gassis called the bombings an outrage and asked Sudan President Omar al-Bashir to ensure the hospital is protected from future attacks. He said the Mother of Mercy Hospital is the only functioning hospital in Sudan’s South Kordofan state.
The Nuba Mountains are populated by a group of people opposed to the government in Khartoum who are more ideologically aligned with South Sudan. When South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011, the Nuba Mountains were placed north of the new political border, though their more natural place may have been in the south. Fighting between troops in Nuba and the government of Sudan has been ongoing for years.
Catena told the news website Nuba Reports that Sudan’s government wants the people of the region to leave, so the military is trying to destroy infrastructure and “demoralize everybody.” Nuba Reports, a sight dedicated to telling the stories of the people in Nuba, produced a video news report showing what it said was the jet and the Antonov flying overhead and dropping their payloads.
The video also showed dozens of frightened residents ducking and running for cover.