Renewed fighting, refugees in south of Sudan

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2011 7:33 AM
Renewed fighting, refugees in south of Sudan

JUBA (Reuters) - Seventeen people have been killed in fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state, the official news agency SUNA reported Saturday, while in Blue Nile state, up to 3,000 people have fled clashes between the army and rebels formerly aligned to South Sudan.

Analysts say Khartoum is trying to strike against the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile before they become a serious political and military threat.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan -- at the time Africa's largest country -- in July, six years after a ceasefire that ended decades of civil war between north and south.

SUNA said 17 people were killed and 14 wounded in the fighting in South Kordofan, but it gave no further details.

In Blue Nile state, ground clashes and aerial bombardments by the army Friday had forced many people to flee, said Peter de Clerq, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency.

"Between 2,500 and 3,000 people crossed into Ethiopia yesterday morning but the number will have gone up since then," he said

"In al-Damazin there was serious fighting yesterday but... we're not sure how many people have left. We understand that significant numbers of people are trying to leave al-Damazin," de Clercq said.

The Sudan government declared a state of emergency in Blue state Friday and said it was replacing elected governor Malik Agar with a military ruler, SUNA said. South Sudan denies Khartoum's accusations that it is supporting the rebels.

(Reporting by Hereward Holland; Editing by Mike Nesbit)