Sudanese air strike hits South Sudan, breaking pact


Sudanese warplanes dropped several bombs, wounding four soldiers in a contested area claimed by South Sudan, breaking a non-aggression pact signed two days earlier, Juba’s army spokesman said Tuesday.

“Sudanese Armed Forces airplanes bombed the Jau area in Unity state on Sunday, wounding four of our soldiers,” South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer told AFP.

South Sudan − which declared independence from former civil war enemies in north Sudan in July − has accused Khartoum of carrying out several bombing raids in frontier regions of its territory, claims denied by the northern army.

The bombings took place in oil-rich areas along the disputed border with the rump state of Sudan, which both sides claim as theirs. The Jau area has seen several bombings in recent months, as well as fighting between the two sides.

“There were several bombs launched from Antonov aircraft,” Aguer said.

The region borders Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state, where rebels − once part of the ex-guerrilla turned official South Sudanese army − are battling the Khartoum government forces.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a non-aggression pact late Friday over the disputed border in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a move praised by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

However, Aguer said the latest bombings showed the deal had not been taken seriously by Khartoum.

“Nothing has changed, it is business as usual for them,” Aguer said.

Gideon Gatpan, Minister of Information for Unity state, confirmed there had been “several bombings” on Sunday in the Jau area.

According to the pact, the two sides agreed to “respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and to “refrain from launching any attack, including bombardment.”

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July, becoming the world’s newest nation.

South Sudan took three quarters of Sudan’s oil when it gained independence, but all pipeline and export facilities are controlled by the north.

Last month, the South halted oil production − forming 98 percent of government revenue − after Juba accused Khartoum of stealing $815 million worth of crude oil.

The latest round of talks between Khartoum and Juba continue in Addis Ababa to resolve the furious oil crisis, with the South demanding that any deal include settlement on border issues and contested areas.

At least 105,000 Sudanese refugees have fled into South Sudan since fighting erupted in the northern states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile last year, after Khartoum moved to assert its authority in the wake of southern secession.

The refugees are adding to the woes of the grossly impoverished South, which is reeling from internal crises including a wave of bloody ethnic violence, rebel attacks and severe food shortages.