Sudanese planes bomb South Sudan camp

Sudanese military aircraft bomb refugee camp, officials say, one day after another cross-border incident.

    South Sudan became its own country in July after a successful independence referendum [AFP]

    Military aircraft from Sudan have crossed the new international border with South Sudan and dropped bombs in and around a camp filled with refugees, officials said.

    A government official initially reported deaths as a result of Thursday's attack on Yida camp, but an American activist who spoke to aid workers at the camp later said there were no casualties.

    Ryan Boyette, a former aid worker who lives in Sudan who is now leading a team of 15 citizen journalists, said he talked to five aid workers in the Yida camp, all of whom said that four bombs were dropped but that they caused no casualties.

    Boyette said one of the bombs landed in a school yard where about 300 students were attending class, but the bomb did not explode, citing aid workers at the camp.

    "This provocation must be countered by the full force of the international community, or else a massive war could unfold."

    - John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project

    The violence in and near the Yida refugee camp, located 15km south of the border, came one day after bombings were reported in another region of South Sudan.

    The president of South Sudan, which became the world's newest country only four months ago, said he fears the Khartoum-based government intends to invade the south soon.

    "Whatever allegations Khartoum labels against the Republic of South Sudan are baseless, but intended to justify his pending invasion of the south," President Salva Kiir said.

    He later added: "We are committed to peaceful resolutions to any conflict but we will never allow our sovereignty to be violated by anybody."

    There was no immediate comment from the Sudanese government in Khartoum.

    'Unacceptable attacks'

    The Wednesday bombings in Upper Nile state sparked condemnation from the US State Department, which said the "unacceptable and unjustified" attacks increase the potential of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

    South Sudan's president said on Thursday that seven people were killed in those bombings.

    John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project - an activist group that works to end genocide, said the regime in Sudan wants to gain access to South Sudan's oil resources.

    "The regime's end game is to either capture South Sudan's oil fields along their common border, or achieve a stronger negotiating position on shared oil revenues and border demarcation," Prendergast said.

    "This provocation must be countered by the full force of the international community, or else a massive war could unfold."

    South Sudan's oil reserves must be pumped through pipelines that run through Sudan. Splitting the oil revenues has long been a major sticking point between the two sides.

    Another major issue is the demarcation of the border. Though the countries are now separate an official border has not yet been laid down.

    The recent violence is troubling given the history between the two sides: The black African tribes of South Sudan and the mainly Arab north battled two civil wars over more than five decades, and some two million people died in the latest war, from 1983 to 2005.

    A shaky peace deal ended the war and South Sudan became its own country in July after a successful independence referendum.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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