Match Battalion: Confirmation of the Razing of Um Bartumbu Village, South Kordofan, Sudan (Report)


At least 80 buildings in the Nuba Mountains village of Um Bartumbu, South Kordofan, Sudan were burned sometime between November 12 and November 28, 2011, according to Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, analysis of Landsat and DigitalGlobe satellite imagery.

The burned buildings, which comprise approximately 90 percent of the village infrastructure, appear to be consistent with civilian residential structures. The pattern in which these buildings were apparently burned is consistent with the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure.

These findings are based on SSP analysis of near infrared imagery used to detect evidence of fire. Imagery was captured in November 2011 by Landsat 7—a satellite operated by the United States Geological Survey in a joint initiative with NASA—and confirmed by analysis of additional imagery taken in January 2012 by DigitalGlobe.

SSP’s findings corroborate new eyewitness reports that a joint unit of Sudanese forces known as the Match Battalion, comprised mostly of Sudan Armed Forces accompanied by Popular Defense Forces, or PDF, razed the village in late 2011.

In addition, SSP has obtained new videos and photographs taken by Eyes and Ears Nuba, a group of citizen journalists based in rebel-held territory in the Nuba Mountains, who traveled to the abandoned village on June 16, 2012, to document evidence of its razing. Um Bartumbu sits in a no-man’s-land in the on-going conflict between the Government of Sudan and the rebel forces of the Sudan Revolutionary Front.

An undated cellphone video obtained by SSP from Eyes and Ears Nuba shows Sudanese forces who call themselves "Katiba Kabreet," Arabic for the Match Battalion, razing a village. In the video, Sudanese men fire guns and carry torches as residential compounds burn. Most wear matching uniforms and boots, and are dressed in a manner consistent with Sudan Armed Forces. Some wear mismatched uniforms and tennis shoes, and are dressed in a manner consistent with PDF militia forces.

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