From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Feb 24 2009 - 06:40:08 EST
Militia clash with south Sudan army in Malakal
Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:26am GMT
JUBA, Sudan, Feb 24 (Reuters) - South Sudan's army and militiamen traded
heavy gunfire on Tuesday in the south Sudan town of Malakal, eyewitnesses
and southern army officials said.
The fighting was between the southern army and members of a southern militia
headed by Gabriel Tang, who was backed by Khartoum during Sudan's long civil
war between the north and south, a senior commander from the south's army
"This (fighting) is because Tang arrived yesterday in Malakal. The U.N.
tried to persuade him to leave but he refused," James Hoth told Reuters.
Hoth said the fighting had been heavy, but it was not yet known whether
anyone had been killed or wounded.
Fighting between south Sudan's army and elements in Tang's militia killed
150 people in Malakal in 2006 and was a major threat to a fragile
north-south peace deal signed in 2005.
A witness sheltering from gunfire said there had been two separate outbreaks
of gunfire and explosions.
"There's been heavy shooting this morning from about 8 a.m. There have also
been big explosions ... there are tanks on the streets," said the witness,
who declined to be named.
After the 2006 fighting the south's President Salva Kiir issued an arrest
warrant for Tang and he was barred from Malakal, Hoth said.
The southern army soldiers involved in the fighting are from a special joint
unit of both northern and southern forces that control the south's towns and
oil fields under the peace accord, Hoth said.
The northern army contingent contains former members of Tang's militia, Hoth
said, but it is unclear whether they are involved in Tuesday's fighting.
Some 2 million people were killed in Sudan's north-south war and another 4
million displaced from their homes. (Reporting by Skye Wheeler; editing by
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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