Ban calls for calm in Sudan after clashes

2012-03-27 12:30

George Clooney witnesses attacks

2012-03-16 12:56

In a recent trip into rebel-held territory in Sudan's Nuba Mountains, George Clooney witnessed rocket attacks and aerial bombardment. WARNING: This video contains graphic content. WATCH

Khartoum – The UN chief Ban Ki-Moon appealed for calm after Sudan on Tuesday suspended an April summit between President Omar al-Bashir and his southern counterpart after fresh border clashes.

"The government announced that it suspended Bashir's visit to Juba after the South Sudanese army attacked [the oil-rich territory of] Heglig," state radio reported early on Tuesday. The two leaders had been due to meet on April 03.

Comments by the South's leader Salva Kiir that his troops had taken the northern oil centre "reflected extreme hatred to Sudan," said Information Minister Abdullah Ali Massar, the official SUNA news agency reported.

South Sudan had engaged in "deceptive and misleading acts" when it signed accords with Khartoum at African Union-led talks in Ethiopia, and when last week it invited Bashir to the summit, said Massar.

Ban called on the two countries to end the clashes and respect the agreements on border security they had already reached, said spokesman Martin Nesirky.

The two sides should "utilise to the fullest extent existing political and security mechanisms to peacefully address their differences", added the spokesperson.

The proposed talks between Bashir and Kiir had been aimed at easing tensions that pushed the two countries to the brink of war as recently as early March.

But fresh clashes erupted Monday along the disputed border.

Kiir warned of the threat of war after what he said had been Sudanese ground and air attacks on multiple positions in South Sudan's oil-rich border regions.

Limited clashes

"This morning the [Sudanese] air force came and bombed... areas in Unity state."

Their troops had fought back and taken Heglig, he added.

"After this intensive bombardment our forces.... were attacked by SAF [Sudan Armed Forces] and militia," he added, speaking at the opening of a ruling party meeting in the southern capital Juba.

"It is a war that has been imposed on us again, but it is they [Khartoum] who are looking for it," said Kiir, adding that he did not want the conflict to resume.

Sudanese army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad initially said "limited clashes" had occurred between his forces and those of South Sudan along the border.

But later on Monday Sudan's military said a large contingent of South Sudanese troops had crossed several kilometres over the frontier, but that Sudanese soldiers had "defeated them and killed a number of their troops".

The Sudanese military said southern troops had sought a meeting with a Sudanese commander on Monday morning over alleged border violations by Khartoum's troops, SUNA reported.

That afternoon, southern troops had moved over the frontier in force, it said.

The SAF spokesperson  accused rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) from Sudan's western Darfur region of having "exploited this clash" to target Sudanese troops in the Heglig area. They had been repulsed, he added.

The rebel group said that while it had some fighters in western South Kordofan, they had not clashed with Sudanese troops on Monday.

Failed negotiations

Both countries claim parts of the oil-rich territory of Heglig.

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July after an overwhelming vote that followed Africa's longest war.

In late February and early March Khartoum accused the south of backing a rebel attack in the disputed border area of Jau and threatened retaliation.

Air strikes followed on an oilfield in the south's Unity State, an attack Juba blamed on Khartoum's forces.

Later in March, after months of failed negotiations, a dispute over oil fees and mutual accusations of backing rebels on each other's territory, South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum said relations had improved.

Amum and a South Sudanese delegation visited Khartoum last week to invite their "brother" Bashir to the summit and said he had accepted.

On Monday - before word emerged of the fighting - officials in Khartoum said it was not yet certain he would make the trip.

South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer said fighting was still going on and there had been casualties, though he did not have full details. But the army did not want the clashes to spiral into war, he added.

Earlier Monday SUNA reported that Bashir had issued a decree approving training camps for fresh recruits to the People's Defence Force (PDF) militia.

Read more on:    un  |  jem  |  omar al-bashir  |  salva kiir  |  ban ki-moon  |  sudan  |  south sudan  |  east africa

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.