Juba: Sudanese warplanes on Thursday launched
their first attack on a major South Sudanese town, with five
bombs dropped on the capital of the oil-producing Unity border
state, Southern officials said.
"They dropped bombs in Bentiu town -- apparently they
were aiming for a bridge," South Sudan`s deputy information
minister Atem Yaak Atem told AFP.
Bombs were dropped at dawn targeting a strategic bridge
on the edge of Bentiu, which lies some 60 kilometres from the
frontier, on the third straight day of violence.
The latest clashes, the worst since South Sudan won
independence in July after one of Africa`s longest civil wars,
have brought the two former foes the closest to a return to
Parliaments in both countries on Wednesday urged their
respective citizens to take up defences, but Atem said the
South still did not want to go to war.
"Our position is not to go to war except in
self-defence," Atem said, adding that there were no reported
casualties from today`s raid.
Atem said the targeted bridge was near a United Nations
compound, slightly outside the town and on the road leading
north to the frontline.
"It doesn`t take us by surprise, as all along they have
been looking for excuses to go to war," he added.
"They never acknowledged the fact that South Sudan became
independent... this (bombing) is to express their bitterness
for the South going its own way."
Khartoum has vowed to react with "all means" against a
three-pronged attack it said South Sudanese forces had
launched against Sudan`s South Kordofan state, including the
Heglig oil field.
A statement on Khartoum`s official SUNA news agency
warned of "destruction" in South Sudan.
"I think they want to disable communication and transport
-- they said they were going to destroy the South," Atem
"They have attacked other places like villages and oil
installations and oil fields outside towns, but Bentiu is the
first town to be hit."
The international community, including the African Union,
United Nations and the United States, has called for restraint
and voiced deep concern at the escalation of violence which
saw South Sudan`s army seize the Heglig oil region. (AFP)