Sudan-South Sudan violence persists

2012-04-24 14:56

Bentiu - Sudanese warplanes bombed South Sudan's oil-rich border regions overnight, as violence persisted despite international calls for restraint, officials said on Tuesday.

Sudanese bombers hit Panakwach and Lalop in the South's Unity state, as well as on the border post of Teshwin, a contested zone that has seen heavy fighting in recent days, state governor Taban Deng said.

The air strikes, some reaching about 25km from the frontline, followed bombing raids on the state capital Bentiu earlier on Monday, continued until the "early hours" on Tuesday, Deng said.

"There are wounded people who have been evacuated to Bentiu hospital, some of them are farmers, some are soldiers," Deng told reporters in Bentiu.

After heavy fighting that broke out last month, both Sudan and South Sudan are reportedly reinforcing troops numbers and digging into trenches along their contested border.

Deng said that at present "with the exception of aerial bombardment, the front line is quiet".

However, Mac Paul, the South's deputy director of military intelligence, warned he had "information from our sources the Sudanese army is mobilising for a push on Bentiu", claims that could not be confirmed.

Bentiu lies at least 60km from the frontline with Sudan's army, and large numbers of Southern troops and tanks have moved into the border zone to bolster defences.

South Sudan said Sunday it had completed a withdrawal of its forces from the disputed oil town of Heglig - seized from Khartoum's army on 10 April - but has warned it will fight back if Sudan does not end its aerial attacks.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, making a visit to Heglig on Monday, said the time for talks was over with South Sudan government, which he has previously described as an "insect" that must be eliminated.

"We cannot be sitting at the mercy of the Sudanese air force," Deng added. "If nothing is being done, for sure we will retaliate... we are very serious about this, were not joking."