(Updates with agreement starting in fifth paragraph.)
June 30 (Bloomberg) -- Airstrikes by the Sudanese army in the border state of Southern Kordofan from June 25 to June 28 probably caused civilian casualties, the United Nations said.
“Reports of aerial attacks causing civilian casualties and severe injuries in the Kauda area on June 27 have not yet been verified, but are supported by photographic and eyewitness reports,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in an e-mailed statement today. Raids were also reported in other parts of the state, including the capital, Kadugli, during the same period, according to the statement.
Clashes between Sudanese government forces and units of Southern Sudan’s army in Southern Kordofan, northern Sudan’s only oil-producing state, have forced more than 73,000 people to flee their homes since June 5, according to the UN. The fighting there and in the disputed border region of Abyei raised concern of a resumption of a two-decade civil war that ended in 2005.
Authorities in Southern Sudan said fighting in Southern Kordofan may have broken out when the Sudanese army tried to disarm residents of the state, such as members of the Nuba ethnic group, who fought with the south’s army in the civil war. They accuse President Umar al-Bashir’s government of attempting to occupy disputed border areas before the south becomes independent on July 9.
Integration of Troops
The Sudanese government and the northern branch of Southern Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, agreed on June 28 that southern-allied fighters from the northern states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile would be integrated into the Sudanese army, though the details are yet to be worked out, according to the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
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. The crude is pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer.
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 in Khartoum accused the Southern Sudanese army of starting the violence in both Southern Kordofan and Abyei.
Sudanese authorities agreed yesterday with Southern Sudan’s government to demilitarize the north-south border before southern independence, the AU Sudan panel said. Under the agreement, the Sudanese army, based in Khartoum, and Southern Sudan’s forces, would redeploy 10 kilometers (6 miles) outside the border within 10 days, the panel said.
--With assistance from William Davison in Addis Ababa. Editors: Heather Langan, Karl Maier
To contact the reporter on this story: Maram Mazen in Khartoum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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