18 dead in Sudan raid, UN seeks to calm tension

Relations between Sudan and its newly-independent southern neighbour have deteriorated sharply this week.

Juba: A cross-border attack by Sudanese troops on a military base killed 18 fighters, South Sudan`s
army charged, as the UN Security Council sought ways to end
spiralling violence between the two states.

Relations between Sudan and its newly-independent
southern neighbour have deteriorated sharply this week, due to
fighting either side of the new international frontier that
has prompted an angry exchange of accusations.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations,
said the Security Council was discussing ways "we might
prevail on the parties to de-escalate, return to the
negotiating table and solve critical issues that divide them."

The Sudan People`s Liberation Army (SPLA) reported a
ground attack in Upper Nile state on Thursday, when the
northern army also bombed Yida refugee camp in nearby Unity
state and another site in Upper Nile.

"There has been fighting in Kuek after an attack on
our base by Sudanese armed forces (SAF) and mercenaries" that
started at 9:00 am (0600 GMT) on Thursday and lasted seven
hours, SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said.

"On our side, five were killed and 26 were wounded,
and on the side of the attackers, 13 bodies were counted on
the ground and they have 47 wounded," Aguer said, claiming the
assailants used mortars, AK-47 assault rifles and heavy

Aguer said the attackers had been driven back across
the border, but added that more incursions were expected in
South Sudan`s oil-producing region.

Sudanese officials rejected the accusations against

"There is no aerial bombardment, we did not exercise
any kind of military activity outside our borders," Sudan`s UN
envoy Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman told reporters after the
Security Council meeting in New York.

His claims were dismissed by Rice, who said the
Khartoum envoy had "blatantly lied" to the Council.

But Osman`s account of events was echoed by Sudan`s
foreign ministry spokesman Al-Obeid Merwah, who said the army
had no intention of following the northern branch of the SPLA
into South Sudan.

"We are asking the international community to exert
more pressure on the government of South Sudan to withdraw
their SPLA troops, which are fighting in Blue Nile and South
Kordofan, to South Sudan and disarm them," Merwah said.

SAF Army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad was quoted by
official Sudanese media as saying that international
condemnation, especially from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR)
and the United States, was based on false information.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the Security
Council meeting that the UN mission in South Sudan had
confirmed information about Sudanese forces dropping "at least
two bombs near the Yida refugee camp," one of which landed
close to a school.


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