* Khartoum, Juba at odds over oil exports, border disputes (Adds rebels'
figure on casualties)
By Hereward Holland
JUBA, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Rebel groups in Sudan said on Monday they had
captured a Sudanese army garrison near the border with South Sudan in an
operation that Khartoum blamed on the south's army.
The rebels said in a statement they killed 130 members of the government
forces in the attack. The figure could not be independently verified.
The South Sudan government said none of its forces were involved, but the
assault fuelled tensions between the neighbours already at odds over oil
exports and border disputes. Any involvement of southern forces would have
violated a non-aggression pact signed by the two sides this month.
The clashes on Sunday took place in the South Kordofan province on Sudan's
side of the ill-defined border with South Sudan, a flashpoint between the
The newly formed rebel umbrella group Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) said
its forces were behind the assault on the military post around Lake Obyad,
which lies near the boundary.
The SRF was formed last year between the Sudan People's Liberation
Movement-North (SPLM-N), who operate in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states,
and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), based in Darfur in the west of
"It is a victory, the first victory under the umbrella of the SRF to have
two forces fighting together," SRF spokesman Arnu Ngutulu Lodi told Reuters
The SPLM-N's fighters fought alongside the forces of what is now the south's
ruling SPLM during Sudan's civil war that ended with a peace deal in 2005
and led to southern secession in 2011.
The SPLM-N says it cut ties with the South after independence, but Khartoum
accuses Juba of continuing to provide military and financial support to the
According to Lodi, the SRF captured hundreds of machine guns, dozens of
heavy artillery and 200 vehicles from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF),
although he said it was too early to provide a number of casualties from
Both countries trade accusations of supporting insurgents in each other's
territory. Tensions have also mounted in a dispute over how much Juba should
pay Khartoum to export its oil.
Authorities in landlocked South Sudan say Sudan has since December stolen
over $800 million worth of oil, which has to be exported via a pipeline
through the north. Sudan says it seized the crude in lieu of what it calls
unpaid transportation fees.
Sudan has threatened to file a complaint about what it says are the south's
violations of the non-aggression pact to the United Nations Security Council
and the African Union, although the South said its forces were not involved.
"Those battles that have been fought for the last 72 hours are completely
within the republic of Sudan and are between SAF and (SRF) and we are not
party to that," South Sudan's army spokesman Philip Aguer said.
In turn, he said Khartoum violated the pact by bombing the South's army at
Jau the day after the security deal was signed. That is a charge that Sudan
"It is the government of South Sudan that should complain to international
bodies like the Security Council," Aguer said.
The United States has warned that South Kordofan could face famine
conditions if Khartoum continues to deny aid agencies access to civilians in
rebel-held areas. (Additional reporting by Khaled Abdelaziz in Khartoum;
Editing by Alessandra Rizzo and Roger Atwood)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Mon Feb 27 2012 - 17:42:31 EST