* Sudan says South Sudan has backed rebels, south denies
* Volatile border region home to thousands who fought with south (Adds South
Sudan's says Khartoum is backing Unity state rebels, Khartoum's response)
KHARTOUM/JUBA, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Sudanese rebels and government forces
clashed in an oil-producing border state on Monday, Sudan's government and
the insurgent group said, a sign of escalating fighting that has raised
tensions with the newly-independent south.
Fighting broke out between Sudan's army and rebels in the South Kordofan
state in June, just weeks before the south split off into a separate
country. Both sides have blamed the other for starting the clashes.
Both Sudan's army and the rebels claimed gains over the other during
Monday's fighting in the town of Taludi.
Ahmed Haroun, South Kordofan's governor, said Sudan's military repulsed the
attack, and accused South Sudan of backing the rebels.
"Hundreds of soldiers from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (in South
Kordofan) were killed during an attack on the city of Taludi this morning,"
he told reporters at a news conference by telephone.
A spokesman for the SPLA in South Kordofan, Qamar Dalman, said the fighting
was not over and disputed the government's figures, saying just five SPLA
fighters had been killed.
He claimed rebels controlled up to half of Taludi and had killed 273
Neither of the reports could be independently verified.
Many of the rebels fought against Khartoum as part of the south's Sudan
People's Liberation Army (SPLA) during a decades-long civil war, but were
left in the north when South Sudan became independent in July.
South Kordofan and Blue Nile -- both states on Sudan's side of the border --
and the disputed Abyei area saw heavy fighting during the civil war, and
fresh clashes have broken out in all three this year.
Sudan has accused groups in those territories of trying to spread chaos
along the border, while rights groups have accused Khartoum of trying to
stamp out remaining opposition on its side of the border.
FIGHTING EXACERBATES TENSIONS
Fighting along the border has exacerbated tensions between Khartoum and its
former civil war foes in South Sudan, who are still negotiating over how to
manage the formerly integrated oil industry and other sensitive issues.
Each side has accused the other of backing rebels in its territory.
A spokesman for Sudan's army repeated claims that the South Kordofan rebels
received training in South Sudan, an accusation South Sudan has previously
On the other side, South Sudan's army spokesman Philip Aguer said he had
evidence linking authorities in Khartoum to the rebel South Sudan Liberation
Army (SSLA), which attacked the oil-producing Unity state's Mayom town on
Sudan's information ministry official Rabie Abdelaty dismissed the charges.
"I don't think this accusation has any degree of correctness," he said.
The rebel assault in Unity state killed 11 civilians and 13 government
soldiers, Aguer said, adding the South's army killed 32 insurgents and
The SSLA has advised the United Nations and aid agencies to evacuate both
Unity and Warrup state in the next few days, raising fears of further
South Sudan seceded in July after voting to separate in a January referendum
promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended what was one of Africa's
longest-running civil wars.
(Reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by
Kenya dismisses refugee camp airstrike as rebel propaganda
Mon Oct 31, 2011 3:41pm GMT
* Kenyan troops entered Somalia 16 days ago
* Somalia, Kenyan call for ICC investigations
* Kenyan PM says seeking U.N. backing for operation
* Military says al Shabaab vehicle exploded in camp (Adds Somali, Kenyan PM,
military comments, agreement)
By David Clarke and Sahra Abdi
NAIROBI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Kenya on Monday dismissed as "al Shabaab
propaganda" reports that its warplanes hit a refugee camp in southern
Somalia where five people were killed and 45 wounded a day earlier.
Kenya's military said its jets hit the town of Jilib on Sunday in an
operation targeting fighters from the Somali insurgent group, killing 10 and
Kenyan military spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir told Reuters the airstrike hit
an al Shabaab vehicle armed with an anti-aircraft gun and loaded with
ammunition near the camp. He said it caught fire and was driven into the
camp in search of human shields, but exploded.
"Instead of taking it to safety, he drove it into the IDP (internally
displaced persons) camp," Chirchir said. "We were on point in terms of
Kenya sent troops into Somalia in mid-October in pursuit of the Somali
militants it blames for a series of kidnappings on Kenyan soil and frequent
assaults on its security forces in the border province of North Eastern.
Gautam Chatterjee, Head of Mission for aid agency Medecins Sans Frontiers
Holland in Somalia, said earlier on Monday that five people had been killed
and 45 wounded, mostly women and children, in an explosion in the camp.
"In our hospital in Marare, we received 31 children, nine women and five
men. All of them of with shrapnel injuries," he told Reuters from Nairobi.
He said three children, one man and one woman had been killed in the blast.
MSF, which said the explosion happened during an aerial bombardment, has
evacuated its team from Jilib and suspended operations helping some 1,500
households in the camp.
The first serious clash between Kenyan troops and al Shabaab militants was
last Thursday. Kenya said it killed nine rebels and that one Kenyan soldier
wounded in the insurgent ambush subsequently died.
SEEKING ICC HELP
Odinga said on Monday no Somali civilians had been targeted by the Kenyan
air force, and reports of civilian deaths at the hands of its military were
"It would be most unfortunate, but the information we have is that it's just
al Shabaab propaganda. That is what we have from our own forces," he told a
news conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, with his Somali counterpart.
"If that happened really, and there were civilian casualties, then it's an
unfortunate incident, and we're sorry about that," said Somali Prime
Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.
The two prime ministers signed an agreement on Monday after talks outlining
the joint operation against al Shabaab.
The countries said they would be calling on the International Criminal Court
in The Hague to start immediate investigations into crimes against humanity
committed by members of al Shabaab.
They also called for financial and logistical support from international
donors to help blockade the southern Somali port of Kismayu, which is an al
"Kismayu is the major supply port for al Shabaab. Our intention is to
blockade it, to cut off the supply line for al Shabaab," said Odinga.
MORE AU TROOPS NEEDED
He also said they would be seeking United Nations support for the operation
and that more soldiers would be needed for an African Union peacekeeping
force (AMISOM) already in Mogadishu to secure areas liberated by Kenyan and
The offensive by Kenyan troops in southern Somalia comes as AMISOM is
battling al Shabaab rebels for full control of the capital.
U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said on Monday that Somali
troops and AMISOM now control 98 percent of the coastal capital, but that
the 9,000-strong African Union force needed reinforcements to deal with
guerrilla-style attacks in so-called "asymmetric warfare".
"In the north east of the city we are witnessing a combination of
conventional warfare as well as asymmetrical warfare. It is of course quite
a challenge and sends a big reminder to the troop contributing countries
that we should be expediting the deployment of the remaining 3,000 troops,"
"There is a need for additional equipment like helicopters and engineering
teams to deal with asymmetric warfare," he told reporters in Nairobi.
AU forces from Uganda came under attack from two suicide bombers on Saturday
in the capital. The AU force said two of its soldiers had been wounded,
although sources said some Ugandan troops had been killed in a brief
Al Shabaab said it had killed 80 Ugandan soldiers in a two-hour battle. The
insurgents have inflated death tolls from attacks in the past, while AMISOM
has also underplayed actual casualty levels. (Additional reporting by
Richard Lough, Aaron Maasho and Yara Bayoumy.; Writing by David Clarke;
Editing by Richard Lough and Matthew Jones)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Mon Oct 31 2011 - 17:05:08 EDT