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Sudanese aircraft pummel South Sudan

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
April 23rd, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Tensions between the two neighboring African nations of Sudan and South Sudan have reached a broiling point as Sudanese aircraft have renewed bombings across the border. Targets across Unity State in South Sudan have left one person dead and three others wounded, a military official has said.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Major General Mac Paul, the deputy director of military intelligence for South Sudan says that two MiG 29 fighter planes dropped three bombs, two of which landed near a bridge that connected Bentiu, the capital of Unity State and Rubkona.

"This is a serious escalation and violation of the territory of South Sudan. It's a clear provocation," Paul said.

Paul said ground troops from Sudan launched three waves of attacks on its shared border.

"We are building up troops because we think that the Sudanese army is also building up," he said.

Khartoum says it has repelled a "major" attack by SPLM-N fighters in South Kordofan state, on its own side of the border. Sudan routinely says the fighters are controlled by the South.

"We have nothing to do with what is going on in Unity State," Sudan's army spokesperson said.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has arrived in the oil-rich town of Heglig, the president's first visit to this oil-rich border region after it claimed to have liberated from Southern forces last week.

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has denounced the bombings. Hilde F. Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan, says that "these indiscriminate bombings resulting in the loss of civilian lives must stop."

Sudan and South Sudan have been inching ever closer to a full-scale war in recent months over the unresolved issues of sharing oil revenues and the disputed border.

The international community has called for the two nations to stop all military action against each other and restart negotiations to solve their disputes.

U.S. President Barack Obama has asked the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations and said that conflict was not inevitable.

Talks between the two countries over unresolved disputes broke down in Ethiopia earlier this month.

The AU on Sunday called on Sudan and South Sudan to end "senseless fighting."

"The commission urges the two parties to immediately and unconditionally resume negotiations . to reach agreements on all outstanding issues," Jean Ping, AU Commission Chairman, said in a statement.

A U.S. monitoring group says that satellite imagery appeared to show the fighting around Heglig had caused major damage to oil pipeline infrastructure.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said the images showed severe damage, and in such a critical part of the oil infrastructure that it would probably stop oil flow in the area.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July last year after an independence vote. The secession was the culmination of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war that killed more than two million people.

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