Tuesday, 22 March 2011

At least 70 killed during clashes in South Sudan

Reports have emerged that at least 70 people have been killed during two days of fighting between South Sudan's army and rebels in three oil-producing states in the south. According to Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman the fighting broke out in Unity and Upper Nile states on Thursday 17th March.

The spokesman said that at least 70 people were killed during the clashes, including 34 South Sudan soldiers and 36 members of a rebel group led by former general George Athor.

Last week, after similar clashes in Jonglei state, South Sudan's government accused the North's President Omar Al-Bashir of trying to destabilise the South before it declares independence in July. An estimated 99 per cent of South Sudanese backed secession in January's referendum, part of a 2005 peace treaty between the North and the South after decades of conflict.

The conflict between SPLA and Athor's rebels erupted in April last year after the latter alleged fraud in State elections. The rebel leader, however, agreed to a ceasefire earlier this year.

Yet, shortly before the week-long referendum South Sudan's government accused the North of using Athor to derail the smooth running of the vote. Both the rebel leader and Khartoum dismissed the allegations as baseless. The ongoing conflict between the Noth and the South has forced Juba to suspend talks with Khartoum about the impending secession. It is yet unclear when and if the talks will be resumed.

Sources: BBC News, RTT News, AFP, Reuters

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