Bloomberg News

Sudan Border Clashes Spread, as South Says North Bombs Village

June 09, 2011

June 9 (Bloomberg) -- Clashes between the armies of northern and Southern Sudan widened along their disputed border a month before the south’s independence.

Fighting entered its fifth day in Southern Kordofan state and spread across the north’s sole oil-producing area, United Nations spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said. Southern Sudan’s army said northern planes bombed a village in the south’s neighboring state of Unity, killing three civilians, including a child.

Clashes along the border have raised concern about a resumption of the two-decade civil war that ended with a 2005 peace agreement. While the two sides are still negotiating the border, President Umar al-Bashir’s Sudanese Armed Forces occupied the disputed region of Abyei on May 21 after saying southern forces attacked its soldiers there two days before.

“The borders have not been demarcated and SAF plans to take some of these areas now,” Southern Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer said today by phone from Juba, the regional capital. “We have said this is part of a plan by SAF.”

Southern Sudan will assume control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels, the third- biggest in sub-Saharan Africa, at independence. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.

The bombing in Jaw village, in Pariang county, continued in the afternoon, Aguer said. The village, where the Southern Sudanese army has a military base, is close to part of a border that is disputed with northern Sudan, he said.

Sudanese army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled’s phone was switched off when he was called seeking comment.

Southern Kordofan Clashes

In Southern Kordofan, clashes that started in Kadugli, the state capital, spread to the towns of Kauda and Talodi, Zerrouk said. The UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, known as UNMIS, sent a company of Bangladeshi troops to Kadugli to help protect more than 10,000 civilians sheltering near the UN compound, Zerrouk said.

“We urge the parties to give access to UNMIS and the humanitarian agencies to undertake the necessary assessment and provide vital assistance,” he said by phone from Khartoum, the capital.

The state-run SUNA news agency reported yesterday that the Sudanese army is deploying throughout the state after it gained control of Kadugli. Troops loyal to Southern Sudan’s army in the state were rebelling against the government in Khartoum with the support of “outside forces,” SUNA cited top presidential aide Nafie Ali Nafie as saying.

Battlegrounds

Under the peace agreement, the northern and southern armies were due to jointly patrol Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states on the northern side of the border and Abyei. All three areas were key battlegrounds during the civil war and have ethnic groups loyal to the south, and others that want to be part of the north.

Clashes on June 5 killed one Sudanese army soldier and injured seven others, according to Sudanese army spokesman Khaled. The bodies of four policemen and two civilians were brought to the Kadugli police hospital after fighting on June 7, Zerrouk said.

Al-Bashir’s army said last week that southern troops in Southern Kordofan would be “legitimate targets” if they didn’t leave the area by June 1.

As many as 60,000 fighters from the northern border states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, who fought for the south in the civil war, are still part of Southern Sudan’s army, according to Fouad Hikmat, the special adviser on Sudan for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

The clashes may have broken out when northern forces tried to disarm members of the Nuba ethnic group in Southern Kordofan who fought on the side of Southern Sudan in the civil war, Aguer said June 7.

--Editors: Karl Maier, Emily Bowers

To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at mmazen@bloomberg.net; Matt Richmond in Juba at mrichmond10@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net.


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