June 11 (Bloomberg) -- Sudanese government MiG-29 fighter jets and Antonov planes bombed units of Southern Sudan’s armed forces as fighting in the north’s sole oil-producing state entered its sixth day yesterday, the United Nations said.
As many as 40,000 of the estimated 60,000 people in Kadugli, the Southern Kordofan state capital, have fled their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. It reported looting, including of UN and aid agency properties, in Kadugli, which the government says it controls.
“The military build-up is continuing in Kadugli and other parts of Southern Kordofan,” UN spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said yesterday by phone from Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. “We urge the parties to end hostilities and to find a political solution.”
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 forces occupied the disputed region of Abyei on May 21 and stepped up their attacks on what it describes as rebels in Southern Kordofan.
Northern Sudanese Armed Forces and northern-allied militias were engaged in “widespread abuses” in the state, as they “carried out house-to-house searches and set up checkpoints, where they stopped civilians trying to flee the violence and killed some of them,” Human Rights Watch said today, citing witnesses.
The forces were targeting civilians suspected of being members in Southern Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the rights group said.
Southern Kordofan borders the oil-rich states of Unity and Upper Nile in Southern Sudan, which will assume control of about 75 percent of Sudan’s daily oil production of 490,000 barrels of oil 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 state pumps about 115,000 barrels per day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.
Sudanese army spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled’s phone was switched off when he was contacted for comment.
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 battlegrounds during the civil war.
The clashes in Southern Kordofan pit northern fighters who served with the southern rebels during the civil war, mainly from the Nuba ethnic group, against the Sudanese army, according to Southern Sudan’s army spokesman, Philip Aguer.
The June 9 bombing of a village in the southern state of Unity may have been because some of the Southern Sudanese army fighters at a military base there are from Southern Kordofan, Aguer said yesterday by phone from Juba.
“They may think some support is coming from there and that is why they are targeting it,” he said.
The former deputy governor of Southern Kordofan, Abdel-Aziz Adam Al-Hilu, called on “all marginalized people” in northern Sudan to struggle to topple al-Bashir’s government.
“The people want to topple the regime to achieve radical change in the center to remove all forms of marginalization,” Al-Hilu said in a statement on June 9. “Be it by armed struggle, popular uprising, civil disobedience, strikes or protests,” he said.
Al-Hilu lost the election for governor in May to Ahmed Haroun, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court over allegations he was involved in war crimes in the Sudanese western region of Darfur.
--Editors: Karl Maier, Paul Tighe
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