Middle East

North, South Sudan trade blame over Abyei attacks

KHARTOUM: North and South Sudan’s armies Friday accused each other of launching attacks in the contested Abyei border region, marking an escalation of tensions in the countdown to the South’s independence in July.

South Sudan’s army accused the North of using tanks and artillery in attacks on four villages Friday.

North Sudan’s army was not immediately available for comment but earlier accused the South of ambushing Northern troops traveling in a convoy with U.N. peacekeepers Thursday.

South Sudan voted to become independent in a referendum in January agreed under a 2005 peace deal but tensions have built up in the oil-producing Abyei border region where both sides have built up forces.

The Southern army (SPLA) said Northern forces had attacked SPLA army and police forces in at least four villages Friday.

“They used shells, long-range artillery, even tanks,” said SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer. “We don’t know casualty figures yet. Shells were still falling this afternoon when I got the latest report.”

A spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) earlier said artillery fights broke out in the area of Todach and Tagalei but later said he needed to confirm the report.

The fresh violence came after the North accused the SPLA of attacking a convoy of Sudanese soldiers and U.N. peacekeepers late Thursday in Dokura North of Abyei town.

“Abyei is now a war zone,” said Sadiq Amer, deputy head of Northern intelligence and security forces, adding that at least 22 soldiers had been killed in what he called an “aggression” of Southern forces against a convoy of around ten vehicles.

“The troops were ambushed without any warning,” he told reporters in the capital Khartoum.

The SPLA denied responsibility for the attack, which the U.N. said had taken place on a convoy of Northern troops escorted by U.N. peacekeepers under a deal for both sides to withdraw forces from the disputed territory.

UNMIS did not identify the attackers but said the ambush took place in Dokura, an area it said was controlled by Southern police forces. It said two Sudanese soldiers and one peacekeeper had been injured.

Under a deal to ease tension, the North and South agreed to withdraw all of their forces from Abyei except for a special joint force made up of units from both sides. The pullout was supposed to be completed this week.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 21, 2011, on page 8.

Recommended





Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus

Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here