27 December 2012

Sudan: SAF Denies Attacking South Sudan's Territories but Reports Clashes With Tribesmen

Khartoum — The Sudanese army has denied accusation of launching air and ground attacks on the South Sudanese border state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal while reporting clashes between the southern army and Al-Rizigat tribesmen in the disputed region of Mile 14.

South Sudan army known as SPLA accused the Sudanese army (SAF) of dropping 20 bombs and launching a ground attack in the contested Kiir Adem area of Northern Bahr el Ghazal on Wednesday, leading to the death of five people, according to SPLA's spokesperson Colonel Philip Aguer said.

The accusation came at a time when Sudan's President Omer Al-Bashir declared his readiness to meet his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir Mayardit "anywhere, anytime" in order to break the deadlock facing security talks between the two countries to establish a demilitarized buffer zone along their 1800-km borders.

SAF's spokesperson Colonel Al-Sawarmi Khalid Sa'ad denied on Thursday that their air forces launched any attacks inside South Sudanese territories. However, he reported that armed clashes had occurred between the SPLA and members of the Sudanese tribe of Al-Rizigat in Sam'ah area, which is a contested border region also known as the Mile 14 area, between Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Sudan's East Darfur State.

Since South Sudan's independence last year Khartoum has periodically denied bombing southern territory, claiming that it has only attacked areas used by Sudanese rebels on the contested border between the two nations.

Under the border security deal the two countries signed on 27 September, SPLA is required to redeploy its forces by 10 kilometers outside the Mile 14 area, which is included in the demilitarized zone, but the SPLA did not withdraw as the implementation of the whole deal is yet to materialize after talks on how to do so stalled due to Khartoum's demands that Juba disarms the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement North (SPLM/N).

Al-Sawarmi accused the SPLA of planting anti-personnel mines in the Mile 14, adding that the mines harmed citizens and obstructed movement of nomadic tribes which led them to clash with SPLA.

SAF's spokesperson reiterated Sudan's commitment to the full implementation of the security deal and all other deals signed under the name of the Cooperation Agreement in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Reports of confrontations on the border areas alarmed France whose ministry of foreign affairs issued a press release on Thursday warning that such occurrences are challenging efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.

France urged both Khartoum and Juba to put an end to fighting and to immediately implement the Cooperation Agreement in order to prevent confrontations.

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