23 November 2012

South Sudan: Juba Condemns Sudan's Air Attacks As Spla Say Its Troops Are On 'High Alert'

Juba — South Sudanese cabinet chaired by President Salva Kiir on Friday passed a resolution condemning the "continuous unprovoked attacks" by the Sudanese army in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, while the army said it put its forces on high alert.

"The council of ministers in its sitting of today chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit received reports of repeated attacks on the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in which some civilians have been killed. They have been carried out by the Sudanese armed forces for the last four days, in areas which are inside the territory of South Sudan," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information on Friday.

Marial further said the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attack and called on the international community to hold Sudan responsible for the loss of lives and properties in the area.

"They came again today but we have not yet received details but it is likely there must be reports," Marial added.

The Sudanese army denied attacking the South Sudanese territory of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal stressing that its attacks are limited to the neighbouring East Darfur state where it had spoke about newly established rebel camps, 10 kilometers north to the disputed area of mile 14.

Al-Sawarmi Khaled, Sudanese army spokesperson, also accused Juba of continuing to back the rebels groups members of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) violating a security deal were the two sides committed to stop such support.

Since, the Sudanese army remain silent on its activities on the borders with the South Sudan.

Philip Aguer,SPLA spokesperson, on Thursday accused Khartoum of massing troops along the border near Raja in Raja County in Western Bahr el Ghazal adding that their intention is to carry out ground attacks insides the South Sudanese territory.

Major General Santino Deng Wol, commander of division III told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the SPLA forces are on a high state of alert. He added they are closely monitoring the movement of the Sudanese troops and stressed there were no air attacks but were flying about in the area.

"They were hovering about. We have also been reliably informed of their activities. We are fully aware but as an army we just cannot act without receiving orders. We are waiting for directives and instructions from the general command," Wol further told Sudan Tribune from Wunyiik, an army base in the area.

General Wol said he returned from a field visit to SPLA advanced positions in areas around Abyei and Twic county to find that some parts of Aweil North County have been completely deserted by civilians due to aerial bombardments carried out by the Sudanese armed forces.

"I have not yet gone there because I just returned from a visit to Twic and the neighbouring areas", said General Wol; referring to areas around Abyei." I am planning to go there soon so that I see the damage caused by these bombardments myself and to talk with the commissioner to encourage civilians to dig trenches in their houses instead of allowing themselves to be killed by flying shrapnel and bombs out of fears," he stressed.

At least 7 people, most of whom civilians, predominantly women and children have died in air attacks allegedly carried out by Sudanese armed forces since Tuesday. Several others have sustained injuries and uncounted more civilians have been displaced.

Although Sudan has denied any involvement in the attack, local officials and the South Sudan Army (SPLA) say there are clear evidences that show Sudan armed forces have bombed the area.

Madut Dut Yel, acting governor commended the army for showing restrain, saying that Sudan's attempts to "drag the new nation back to War" are not in the interest of the citizens of the two countries.

"The need for peace to prevail between the two countries could clearly be seen from how Sudanese celebrated the signing of the cooperation agreement when president Bashir returned to Khartoum. They started crossing with goods before implementation process of the agreement has actually been officially started," Yel told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

He commended local youth for responding to the development, including taking away some elderly people, pregnant women and the children from the area and remained behind.

The official said they will not response to Khartoum's military provocations aiming at returning the two countries to war.

We are committed "to the objective of having two viable states although someone is trying to derails these efforts. We will remain committed to respecting policy of our national government and the leadership of the SPLM."

If we hit back, then we shall have helped Sudan "to accomplish its purposes and goals of wanting the two countries to return to war because this is the tactic which officials in the National Congress Party employed to remain in power," he further said.

Mel Wal Achien, an area Member of Parliament in the national Assembly in Juba said the Sudanese army want to empty the area from the South Sudanese population before to capture it.

"The Sudan armed forces (...) have been bombing villages deeply inside South Sudan which are not located anywhere near military positions. The intention is clearly to drive away civil population from these areas so that it moves in and occupy. These are the tactics which Sudan employs and we know them, I am a soldier myself. I fought them", Achien told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

He called on the population to not lose trust and confidence in the capability of the SPLA to protect them and their properties from external aggression, explaining the army would not have allowed such ground attack.

Deng Thiep Akok, former commissioner of Aweil County, said he has not received new development on Friday suggesting fresh attack on the area by the Sudanese armed forces. Akok also assured civilians in the area that the country's has not relinquished it roles and duties to protecting the territories which falls inside the new country and its resources.

"Our army, the SPLA, he said is currently giving diplomatic efforts and peace a chance, but are also prepared for the possibility if the peace cannot hold. They know when to act accordingly," he said.

Colonel Phillip Aguer, spokesperson of South Sudan army (the SPLA), also said his office did not receive reports of new aerial bombardments on Friday but that the army was "closely monitoring activities of the Sudanese armed forces along the border areas and was on maximum alert."

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