24 July 2012

Sudan: Six Sudanese Bombs Landed in South Sudan Territory - UN Team

Juba — A United Nations report has confirmed that six bombs, which Sudan claimed aimed at rebels within its own territory, that Sudan said, were aimed at rebels within its own territory, indeed landed in South Sudan areas, The Associated Press (AP) reported.

Details of the incident are reportedly contained in internal UN report it allegedly obtained. A team of U.N. observers, according to report, visited the site and found six bomb craters 1.16 kilometers inside South Sudan's territory.

At least one man said to have been wounded from the bombing reportedly died later.

South Sudan last week announced it was pulling out of talks with Sudan on the outstanding post-session issues, after it accused Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of aerially bombarding its border territories. Juba also filed a complaint to the African Union Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council (UNSC) accusing Khartoum of bombarding three locations in Northern Bhar el-Ghazal which borders South Darfur state.

Khartoum dismissed the accusations, saying that the Sudanese army dealt with a convoy of 105 arms-laden vehicles belonging to Justice for Equality Movement (JEM) when it crossed into Sudanese territories from South Sudan. It further accused Juba of violating the provisions of the UNSC resolution on cessation of support to rebels.

However, JEM in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, vigorously denied launching a ground attack on South Darfur state from South Sudan, pointing out that such "false accusations" aim to cover up fresh air strikes carried out in South Sudan's Northern Bhar el-Ghazal State.

"The accusations directed against JEM aim to cover up the aerial bombardment carried by the Sudanese army on the South Sudanese territory in violation of a UN resolution" said Ahmed Hussein Adam, JEM secretary for foreign affairs.

Ahmed further stressed that Sudan's defense minister and head of its negotiating team Abdel-Rahim Hussein "should be held accountable of this aggression."

After the bombing allegations, the African Union -- which is overseeing the Sudan-South Sudan negotiations -- said it would investigate the incident, which is widely seen as a setback to the efforts by both country's to resolve their outstanding issues before the 2 August deadline.

Meanwhile, the U.N. team reportedly said the six bombs created small craters where they came down in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state early Friday.

"The craters are almost in one line, possibly indicating a bombing run by an aircraft. Bomb fragments and debris was visible in and around the craters. The smell of 'gunpowder' was also evident," AP quotes the UN report.

Phillip Aguer, the South Sudan army (SPLA) spokesman told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that the Sudanese military dropped eight bombs from Antonov planes, a revelation the sharply contradicts the UN observers' assessment report.

A report from the SPLA commander in the area, according to Aguer, indicates that two people, a man and woman who were injured by the bombings.

He however described Khartoum's action as a "hostile and provocative" aggression, which happened when the SPLA least expected, given the ongoing negotiations on outstanding issues in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between the two countries.

"We are not surprised by this action from SAF. This is the characteristic behavior of Khartoum and we are glad that an independent team has come in to verify our position," the SPLA spokesman said in reference to the internal UN observer's report.

Aguer said the ill-intentions of some elements, allegedly from within the Sudan army general headquarters to "derail" the peace process, will not help Khartoum and its people in attaining sustainable peace and stability.

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