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Sudanese Rebels Say They Shot Down Government MiG-23

December 18, 1987

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) _ Sudanese rebels Friday claimed they shot down one of Sudan’s four Soviet- made MiG-23 fighter-bombers when the aircraft attacked rebel positions.

The clandestine radio of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army also reported rebels repulsed a third government attempt to recapture the strategic southern town of Kurmuk.

Khartoum has acknowledged that a MiG-23 crashed with its pilot Tuesday after attacking rebels at Kurmuk, but the government claimed it was due to a technical failure.

Libya last year gave Sudan four Soviet-built MiG-23s.

SPLA Radio, monitored in Nairobi, did not say how the rebels shot down the plane.

″It flew off with a trail of smoke and crashed far from Kurmuk,″ the radio said.

The rebels claimed the MiG-23 was the second they had shot down, but did not give details on the first.

Rebels have used surface-to-air missiles to down two civilian aircraft. The first, in August 1986, killed all 60 people aboard, and the second, in May, killed all 13 people on board.

Kurmuk, on Sudan’s eastern border with Ethiopia, is 370 miles southeast of Khartoum. It was overrun by rebels Nov. 12.

Sudanese Prime Minister Sadek el-Mahdi says Ethiopian troops helped the rebels take the town and he has vowed to recapture Kurmuk at all costs.

The town is 113 miles south of Er Roseires hydroelectric dam, which provides most of Sudan’s electricity.

SPLA rebels have been fighting Sudan’s Moslem-dominated government since 1983, demanding greater autonomy and economic reforms for the south, most of whose residents are Christian or animist.

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