At least 17 people, almost all civilians, were killed in an alleged Sudanese army air strike in the Western Bahr and Ghazal states of South Sudan. According to the Sudan Tribune, government sources said that there are also several injured. The government of Khartoum was accused by Colonel Philip Aguer Panyang, spokesman for the South Sudanese army, adding that many of the victims were cattle herders who were moving their herds.
The bombings, according to the same source, began two days ago and continued yesterday. Khartoum has so far not commented on the accusations, but filed a series of complaints to various international bodies, including the UN Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council.
According to the Sudanese SUNA news agency, Khartoum claims that some 350 combatants of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) onboard 79 vehicles managed to cross the border between the Darfur region and South Sudan, setting up base in an area of the new State, which gained independence from Khartoum last July. The Sudanese also claim that the JEM fighters are using medical facilities made available to them. Juba denied these allegations, in turn accusing Khartoum of offering support to rebel groups active in South Sudan.
Sovereignty of the Abyei oil region and division of oil export proceeds are among the root problems to be resolved between Sudan and South Sudan. The South became independent last July after a referendum foreseen by the 2005 peace accords. South Sudan controls three quarters of the Sudanese oil areas, but for the oil to reach the Red Sea and international markets, the oil pipelines that cross Khartoum’s territory are indispensable.
The other unresolved issues, in addition to the political and military situations, are the conflicts in two border regions between Khartoum’s army and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which is close to the Juba government.