June 20 (Bloomberg) -- A Sudanese aircraft dropped seven bombs near an airstrip in the town of Kauda in Southern Kordofan state, where government forces have been fighting units from Southern Sudan’s army for two weeks, the United Nations said.
The airstrikes took place at 11:30 a.m. yesterday in Southern Kordofan, northern Sudan’s only oil-producing state, the same day that Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir said he was prepared for war and that the recent border clashes with the southern army were “lessons.”
“The security situation is still deteriorating” in the state, UN spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said today by phone from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital. The government has maintained its closure of the state’s airspace, he said.
Clashes in the border areas of Southern Kordofan and the disputed region of Abyei have raised concern about a resumption of the two-decade civil war in sub-Saharan Africa’s third- biggest oil producer that ended with a 2005 peace agreement. The south is due to become independent on July 9.
Fighting and air strikes by Sudan’s military in the past two weeks in Southern Kordofan displaced 60,000 people, according to the UN. About 113,000 people have fled their homes in nearby Abyei since Sudanese government forces occupied the area on May 21, the UN says.
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 when it becomes independent next month. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp.
The state accounts for about 115,000 barrels per day, according to Sudan’s minister of state for oil, Ali Ahmed Osman.
Al-Bashir’s government has accused the southern Sudanese army of starting the violence in both regions.
“We told our brothers in the south, do you want peace? Everything we’ve done is for peace,” al-Bashir said yesterday in a speech in Red Sea state, broadcast on the state Sudan TV. “But if you want war, you can see what’s going on in Abyei and in Southern Kordofan, and these are all lessons.”
Authorities in Southern Sudan say the government is trying to disarm northerners in Southern Kordofan, such as members of the Nuba ethnic group, who fought alongside the south’s army during the civil war. They accuse al-Bashir’s government of attempting to militarily occupy disputed border areas before the south’s independence.
Delegations from the north and south are discussing the proposed mandate of an Ethiopian force that would replace UN peacekeepers in Abyei after Southern Sudan’s independence. Talks in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, also include the structure of Abyei’s future administration.
The talks also aim to reach a cease-fire in Southern Kordofan, according to Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan.
--Editors: Karl Maier, Digby Lidstone
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