South Sudan accuses Sudan of air strike on refugee camp
Thu Nov 10, 2011 7:58pm GMT
* Sudan's army denies it carried out the attack
* Border region violence has raised tensions
* South Sudan president warns of Sudan's "pending invasion" (Adds details on
fighting in South Kordofan)
By Hereward Holland
YIDA CAMP, South Sudan, Nov 10 (Reuters) - A refugee camp in South Sudan's
Unity state was bombed on Thursday, South Sudan officials and witnesses
said, threatening to raise tensions with Sudan in the violence-plagued
Taban Deng, the governor of Unity state, accused Sudan of carrying out the
attack. "These people (Khartoum) should be taken to book. They should adhere
to international laws and regulations," he told reporters in Bentiu.
Sudan's armed forces denied they carried out the strike. In a statement
before the bombing, South Sudan's president Salva Kiir talked of Sudan's
"pending invasion" of its neighbour.
Violence along the poorly defined border since South Sudan's independence in
July has strained ties between the two former civil war foes. They have
accused one another of backing rebel groups on their sides of the border.
A Reuters correspondent heard a large explosion in the Yida refugee camp,
then saw a crater about two metres (6.6 feet) wide, an unexploded bomb
wedged in the side of a school building and a white aircraft flying north.
Witnesses said there were three further explosions at 3 p.m. (1200 GMT).
Yida is a camp of about 20,000 refugees from the Nuba mountains region of
South Kordofan, a state north of the border where rebels have been fighting
Sudan's army since June. Khartoum reported fresh clashes in the state on
There were no immediate reports of any casualties at the camp, less than 25
km (15 miles) from the border with Sudan. A spokesman for the Enough
Project, an activist group that works to end genocide, said the group
confirmed there were no dead or wounded.
"The refugees need to be safe and need to be protected. They ran away from
war. They should not be pursued inside the territory of South Sudan," Deng,
the governor, said.
Al-Sawarmi Khalid, spokesman for Sudan's armed forces, said Sudan had not
bombed anywhere in South Sudan's territory. "South Sudan is a state in the
United Nations. We respect international law, and it's impossible that we
would do that," he said.
Khalid said Sudanese forces fought rebels in South Kordofan about five
kilometres south of the town of Taludi on Thursday, killing dozens and
destroying a tank and other military vehicles.
Fighting has also broken out in Sudan's Blue Nile state this year. The two
states are home to tens of thousands of fighters who sided with the south
during the war but were left in Sudan when South Sudan seceded, analysts
South Sudan split off into a separate country in July after voting
overwhelmingly for secession in a January referendum, the culmination of a
2005 peace deal that ended decades of war between north and south.
Fire crackled in the dry grass around the crater about 100 metres away from
an aid agency compound in Yida camp.
"They (Khartoum) don't want any life in the Nuba mountains, and now they are
expanding the war to the South Sudan republic," said Yousif Ismail, a
refugee from the Nuba mountains, as he stood by the hole.
Last week, Khartoum submitted its second complaint to the U.N. Security
Council, accusing South Sudan of supplying anti-aircraft and anti-tank
missiles, ammunition, landmines and mortars to insurgents in South Kordofan
and Blue Nile states.
Kiir denied those claims in a statement on Thursday, calling them "smoke
screens to mask Khartoum's own activities in support of the armed dissident
groups that are fighting its proxy war against the Republic of South Sudan".
The accusations were being used to justify Sudan's "pending invasion of the
South," Kiir said.
The two countries have yet to agree on how much the new nation will pay to
use Sudan's oil pipelines and other facilities, which South Sudan depends on
to export crude. They also dispute control of the Abyei region.
Some 2 million people died in the north-south civil war, waged for all but a
few years since 1955 over religion, ideology, ethnicity and oil. (Additional
reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz and Louis Charbonneau; Writing by Alexander
Dziadosz; Editing by Robert Woodward and Matthew Jones)
C Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved
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Received on Thu Nov 10 2011 - 16:30:43 EST