Bombardment and Attacks

Attack planes in action Kauda ValleyIn January 2012, in Toroge, South Kordofan, we captured a satellite image of bomb attack aircraft mid-flight. We also captured images of smoke plumes on a ridge above the town from an apparent artillery barrage. Our report documented that Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, created a checkpoint to block refugees from the main evacuation route out of the Kauda Valley.

How do we know who is attacking?

Through satellite imagery analysis, we can identify the artillery, aircraft, and transport vehicles used by SAF. For example, in November 2011, we noted attack aircraft based at El Obeid airbase, North Kordofan. Journalists on the ground in South Sudanese Guffa and Yida refugee camps reported bombing attacks. With information about the operational range of the aircraft (Antonov An-26 bombers), and the distance from the airbase to the points of attack, our analysts can infer that SAF was responsible for the attacks.

How do we know when the attacks take place?

It’s a before-and-after analysis exercise. We look at imagery from dates before the alleged attacks, and compares the landscape to newer imagery. This way, we can identify rapid troop build-up, craters consistent with either aerial or artillery bombardment, and burned structures consistent with razing.

Additionally, on-the-ground eyewitness reports and photography help us pinpoint exact dates and locations of attacks.

What do craters look like? How do you know they’re from bombs?

Not only can we identify bombing craters, but the size, shape and spacing of craters give us clues as to the nature of the attacks. For example, in a December report, we noted that the pattern of the craters in clear lines indicates the attacking aircraft flew at a low altitude and at a slow speed.  Additionally, the large distance between the sets of craters is consistent with either multiple aircraft bombing at once, or the same aircraft performing multiple bombing runs over that location.

November 22 aerial bombardment in Amara Blue Nile

Reports and Imagery Related to Bombardment and Attacks

1/27/12 - Chokepoint: Evidence of SAF Control of Refugee Route to South Sudan

12/1/11 - Blue Nile Burning: Evidence of the Destruction of 'Amara Village

11/14/12 - Launch Point: Corroboration of Reported SAF Air Attacks in South Sudan

11/11/11 - Radius of Operations: Sudan Increases Air Attack Capacity

6/30/11 - Bombardment: Aerial and Artillery Attacks in the Nuba Mountains

5/24/11 - Abyei Invasion: Evidence of SAF Incursion into Abyei; and Fact Sheet on Sudan Armed Forces Invasion

9/28/12 - Gateway to the North: Confirmation of Bombardment and New SAF Fortification at El Moreib Village, South Kordofan, Sudan

10/26/12 - Sitrep: Explosions in Khartoum