Deadly border ambush clouds south Sudan vote

Misseriya chief Hamid al-Ansari denied the tribe had been involved in ambush.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2011, 11:35 AM IST

Juba: World leaders called for calm after a deadly ambush targeted south Sudanese returning from the north for the independence vote.

But even as the killings overshadowed the optimism generated by the week-long poll, Washington said on Tuesday that Sudan could be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism by July if it recognised the referendum`s outcome.

Misseriya Arab tribesmen killed 10 south Sudanese civilians and wounded 18 near the border as they were returning from the north, said southern internal affairs minister Gier Chuang.

"A convoy of returnees coming from the north to the south were ambushed yesterday (Monday) at about 5:00 pm (1400 GMT) by armed Misseriya. Ten were killed and 18 were wounded," Chuang told a news conference in the southern regional capital Juba.

The landmark independence referendum, which again saw a big turnout on its third day, has prompted tens of thousands of southerners to return from the north.

Chuang called for the Khartoum government to be held accountable for the attack by the Arab nomad tribe, which was a key auxiliary militia of the northern Army during the 1983-2005 civil war and is involved in a continuing conflict with pro-southern Dinka in the disputed border district of Abyei.

"The Misseriya belong to a state and that state has to be held accountable," he said.

Misseriya chief Hamid al-Ansari denied the tribe had been involved in any ambush of returning southerners, but northern police confirmed they had received reports of an attack.

"How could we have carried out such actions when the United Nations is on the ground between us and the Dinka?" Ansari said.

Sudanese police spokesman Ahmed Tahami said: "We have received reports that a convoy of people returning to Bahr al-Ghazal (in the south) was attacked but we have no other details."

Bureau Report