27 killed in Sudanese violenceBy MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Wednesday, May 2 2012 at 20:11
At least 27 have been confirmed dead in fresh clashes between the Khartoum and Juba forces, South Sudan Information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Wednesday.
The clashes took place on Tuesday when the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attacked Bufra, between the state capital Bentiu and Pariang in the oil-rich Unity State, Dr Marial said.
The southern troops repulsed the attack, he added, but the situation remained tense across the undefined borders.
“They are attacking our positions, violating our airspace and when we respond, people will say we are attacking Sudan. We have agreed and are committed to cessation of hostilities in respect for UN and AU and they continue to attack us,” Dr Marial told reporters.
SAF spokesman Alsawarmi Khalid was not available for a comment.
Dr Marial said South Sudan withdrew troops from the disputed Heglig, pulled out its police from the contested Abyei region and agreed to the AU framework on peace, but that Sudan had shown no such gesture of goodwill.
Heglig, which southern troops seized last month and withdrew from two weeks later, is claimed by both sides.
Three former governors of South Sudan’s Unity State, who took the seats on President Omar Bashir’s ruling party tickets, have testified before reporters that they administered Heglig as part of the South until 2005.
They said they hosted President Bashir in Heglig and even cast their ballots at centres in the area for Unity State elective seats.
Although international diplomats were trying to push both sides to talk, the gap was still wide.
About 10,000 South Sudanese, who lost their citizenship in Sudan, were stranded in Kosti, facing a looming May 5 deadline to completely vacate Sudan or lose protection.
The Khartoum government has halted humanitarian support that aid agencies were providing, Dr Marial said.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), one of the organisations providing assistance to the victims, confirmed its operation had been blocked.
ADRA’s Chief of Party for Food for Peace Multi-Assistance Programme Idrissa Benard Kamara said Khartoum called for an immediate end to their assistance.
Moreover, the routes to the South were still closed.
Khartoum said the barges that could be used to transport the people to South Sudan could also be used to transport elements of the rebels battling the government in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states.
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