At least 55 people were killed Sunday after fighting broke out between the South Sudan army and Arab nomads from western Darfur. Southern military commanders have accused the northern-based central government army of starting the clashes.
AFP - At least 55 people were killed and 85 wounded in fighting between the south Sudan army and Arab nomads from the western region of Darfur, a tribal chief said on Sunday.
"We have 55 dead and 85 wounded in our camp," after fighting along the sensitive border between Darfur and south Sudan on Friday, Mohammed Issa Aliou told AFP.
"There are many members of the Rezeigat tribe who are heading to the (site of the clashes) in order to help out. There are also reinforcements from the south Sudan army coming from three cities -- Raja, Aweil and Wau," said Aliou, one of the heads of the Rezeigat tribe, which is based mainly in Darfur.
"The tension is high," he said.
He said the Arab nomads had been searching for new pastures and water for their cattle near the border with the southern state of Western Bahr al-Ghazal.
The south Sudan army said on Saturday it had been attacked in the Balballa sector of Western Bahr al-Ghazal, but said the attackers were from the northern-based central government army, not Rezeigat tribesmen.
"A company of 120 SPLA soldiers was attacked on Friday night by armed men wearing uniforms of the northern army that were heavily equipped," Major General Kuol Deim Kuol of the southern former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army said.
Kuol said there were casualties, but he did not elaborate.
The Sudanese army denied it had been involved in the fighting.
Army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said: "We were not involved in these clashes. If one of the partners in the comprehensive peace agreement has such allegations to make about the other, the joint defence council should speak about it."
Saad was referring to the 2005 deal that brought an end to the 22-year war between the the government and the southern rebels.
Autonomous south Sudan is struggling to recover from the civil war with the north during which an estimated two million people were killed, in a conflict fuelled by ethnicity, ideology, religion and resources such as oil.
The region is also plagued by clashes between rival ethnic groups, often sparked by cattle rustling and disputes over natural resources, while others are in retaliation for previous attacks.
More than 400 people have been killed across the south in cattle raids and revenge attacks this year, according to the United Nations.
Friday's fighting came as Sudanese were awaiting the results of the country's first multi-party elections in more than two decades that wrapped up on April 15.
South Sudan is also due to hold a referendum on independence in January next year.
Date created : 2010-04-25