Juba: Southern Sudanese flocked to the polls once again on Tuesday, the third day of voting in the referendum on independence for the south, bringing the region a step closer to nationhood.
Long queues formed outside the main polling stations in Juba, the southern capital, by the time they opened at 8:00 am (0500 GMT).
The scale of the turnout on the first of the seven days of voting has already put the south well on the way to reaching the 60-percent threshold it needs for the referendum to be valid, with large numbers also queuing on Monday to cast their ballot.
The South Sudan Referendum Commission said on Monday that nearly 20 percent of the 3.93 million registered to vote in the landmark poll -- the vast majority of them in the south -- had done so on Sunday, the first day of polling.
Southerners have until Saturday to vote on whether to remain united with north Sudan or secede, as agreed under a 2005 peace deal. The south is widely expected to choose independence, after decades of conflict with the north that left some two million people dead.
The massive referendum turnout and scenes of euphoria in the south have been overshadowed by a flare-up of violence in the disputed Abyei district on the north-south border.
Armed Misseriya Arab tribesmen killed 10 south Sudanese civilians and wounded 18 near the border as they were returning from the north, southern internal affairs minister Gier Chuang said on Tuesday.
"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.