South Sudan says north bombs its territory

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 9:43 AM
South Sudan says north bombs its territory

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - South Sudan's army (SPLA) on Wednesday accused the north of bombing its territory, violating a 2005 peace deal ahead of the oil-producing region's independence.

Sudan's north-south conflict raged for all but a few years since 1955 and claimed 2 million lives in Africa's longest running civil war.

The south voted this year to secede and will become the world's newest nation on July 9.

SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said the north dropped bombs on March 21 between a village and an SPLA base causing no casualties in Raja County in Western Bahr al-Ghazal, which borders the north's war-torn Darfur region.

Sudan's northern army denied it had carried out any bombing raids near the area.

"Strategically it does not make military sense for us to bomb an empty area," spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled said.

The north-south U.N. peacekeeping mission (UNMIS) said it had reports from the SPLA of bombing raids and had sent a patrol to investigate.

Last year the north bombed the south while chasing Darfur rebels they said were being supported by the semi-autonomous southern government.

The south accused the north of arming rebels in its territory with clashes killing hundreds of people this year alone.

While both sides cannot afford a return to all-out war, arming proxy militias was a tactic used during the conflict, fought over religion, ethnicity, oil and ideology.

Wednesday, the Satellite Sentinel Project, set up by actor George Clooney and other activists to monitor troop movements, released satellite images of Abyei -- a central region claimed by both north and south -- which they said showed the north had sent further troops into the flashpoint region.

Sudan's Interior Ministry denied reports by the south that it had sent 1,500 extra police to Abyei but the group said it had images confirming otherwise.

"Satellite imagery confirms reports of the deployment of large numbers of northern forces as well as newly fortified encampments," Charlie Clements, director of human rights documentation of the project, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Opheera McDoom; Editing by Janet Lawrence)