Su­dan bor­der clashes de­rail lead­ers’ plans for sum­mit

U.S. ‘alarmed’ as oil field is hit in S. Su­dan

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY ASHISH KUMAR SEN

Su­danese mil­i­tary air­craft bombed an oil field in neigh­bor­ing South Su­dan on Tues­day, caus­ing an es­ca­la­tion in bor­der vi­o­lence that de­railed an April pres­i­den­tial sum­mit be­tween the two na­tions.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Car­ney said the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion was “alarmed” by the con­flict. He called on Su­danese Pres­i­dent Omar Bashir and South Su­danese Pres­i­dent Salva Kiir Ma­yardit to meet as planned in the South Su­danese cap­i­tal, Juba, on April 3.

How­ever, Gen. Bashir re­sponded to the lat­est clashes by scrap­ping his plans to travel to Juba.

Su­danese and South Su­danese of­fi­cials blame each other for re­cent cross-bor­der vi­o­lence that led to Tues­day’s bomb­ing around the oil-rich Heg­lig re­gion that both sides claim.

“Su­danese mil­i­tary air­planes are still bomb­ing around Heg­lig and fight­ing has reached [12 miles] from Ben­tiu,” said Col. Philip Aguer, a spokesman for South Su­dan’s army.

Ben­tiu is the cap­i­tal of South Su­dan’s Unity State, which abuts the bor­der with Su­dan.

South Su­dan broke away from Su­dan last year, but the two na­tions still have dis­putes over the bor­der and oil rev­enue.

The lat­est vi­o­lence erupted af­ter Su­danese De­fense Min­is­ter Ab­del Raheem Muhammad Hus­sein vis­ited Su­danese troops along the bor­der on Sun­day, Col. Aguer said in a phone in­ter­view.

Fol­low­ing the visit, a Su­danese Armed Forces bat­tal­ion moved closer to the bor­der. On Mon­day, troops from both sides clashed in the dis­puted bor­der town of Jau, he said.

“We are re­spond­ing to ag­gres­sion from Su­dan,” Col. Aguer added.

Su­danese of­fi­cials say South Su­dan pro­voked the at­tack.

Su­danese Vice Pres­i­dent Ali Os­man Taha, in an ad­dress on state tele­vi­sion on Mon­day night, said the South Su­danese army had “tar­geted our oil and our army.”

South Su­dan re­peat­edly makes false al­le­ga­tions against Su­dan, said Seifeldin Omer Yasin, a spokesman for the Su­danese Em­bassy in Washington.

“What is fac­tual, how­ever, is the ag­gres­sion against Su­dan, one that South Su­dan has openly ad­mit­ted to,” he said.

“It is there­fore the duty of the Su­dan Armed Forces to respond to this bla­tant and un­war­ranted provo­ca­tion.”

South Su­danese of­fi­cials say hard-lin­ers within Gen. Bashir’s gov­ern­ment and the Su­danese Armed Forces want to scut­tle ef­forts to make peace be­tween the neigh­bors.

South Su­dan be­came an in­de­pen­dent na­tion on July 9 af­ter a ma­jor­ity of south­ern­ers voted in a ref­er­en­dum in fa­vor of se­ces­sion from Su­dan.

A two-decade civil war be­tween the Arab Mus­lims of the north and the black Chris­tians and an­i­mists of the south claimed about 2 mil­lion lives and ended in a 2005 peace deal.

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