5 April 2012

South Sudan: Nation Guns Down War Plane, Khartoum Denies

A resident of Guit County, showing the crater from an Antonov bomb dropped by the Sudan Armed Forces in Manga village, Unity State, South Sudan, April 1, 2012 (ST)

April 4, 2012 (JUBA/KHARTOUM) - South Sudan's army said on Wednesday it has shot down a war plane belonging to the Sudan Armed Forces, but the latter denied Juba's allegations.

"Our air defence has just brought down a MiG-29 jet fighter at Teshween [Unity state] today at 15.30 hours", the country's deputy defence minister, Majak D' Agoot, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.

D'Agoot explained that the jet fighter was shot down by the country's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) after SAF sent an "unmanned war plane" to photograph strategic SPLA positions on Wednesday.

Juba already accused SAF of carrying out bombing raids on Unity state on Sunday.

"The wreckages are now within the vicinity of where our forces are stationed inside territory of the Republic of South Sudan," said D' Agoot.

He said the SAF carried out air attacks on Tuesday evening at about 10.00 pm, injuring at least two civilians in Manga and Panakuach before it returned on Wednesday.

Spokesman of the army, Philip Aguer, also said South Sudan's Air Defense Forces shot down a Sudanese MiG-29 jet fighter on Wednesday afternoon in South Sudan's Unity state.

Aguer said he was present when the MiG was downed. He said it was one of a pair flying over the Naar and Toma oil fields and had dropped "many" bombs.

South Sudanese forces shot down the MiG with an anti-aircraft gun, he said. The Sudanese "don't know that we have the capacity. They underestimate the SPLA," said Aguer.

Juba an Khartoum are taking part in African Union High Level Implementation Panel negotiations on various issues, including border demarcation and the payment of oil transit fees, in Addis Ababa. These talks were postponed after the relationship between the two nations dramatically deteriorated on 26 March.

However Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)'s spokesperson, al-Sawarmi Khaled denied that one of its warplanes was shot down, in the Unity state by the South Sudanese army.

"What media reported, that we lost a fighter plane in Unity state, we confirm that is completely inaccurate," Sawarmi said in a briefing to the press after the return of the Sudanese delegation from Addis Ababa as the talks over the security issues between the two countries ended without agreement.

The military official said they shelled with artillery rebel positions in the Unity state after attack by the allegedly supported Sudanese rebels on Heglig.

The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir claimed SAF coordinated aerial attacks on Jau and Pan Akuach followed by a ground forces assault against another area called Teshwin.

Following the recent attacks on Heglig in South Kordofan, Sudan said Juba to impact the ongoing talks in Addis Ababa and use the Sudanese rebels to this effect. Khartoum further warned that it will riposte to any military action from the South undertaken by the SPLA or Sudanese rebels.

The delegations of the two countries ended the talks today without reaching a deal as Sudan said Juba should recognize its support to the Sudanese rebel groups and start talks on joint measures to stop such their attacks.

Sudan's defence minister Abdel Rahim Hussein said they told South Sudanese delegation that accords signed with Chad should serves as reference for the security agreement. Referring to a deal inked in January 2010 providing that Sudan and Chad stop their support to the rebel groups based on the two sides and form a joint border force.

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