South Sudan Accuses Sudan of New Air Attacks

Posted May 22nd, 2012 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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South Sudan has accused Sudan of launching more air strikes against its territory to undermine international mediation efforts.

Government officials in Juba said Sudanese warplanes bombed Northern Bahr el Ghazal state on Monday and Tuesday.

Military spokesman Phillip Aguer said Khartoum has developed a pattern of striking when mediation efforts are under way.

“For our observation, it is a habit of Khartoum whenever there is an international mediation activity, they attack so they will spoil any environment for diplomacy.”

Former South African president and African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki is in the region to convince the two Sudans to return to the negotiating table.

The talks to settle key disputes broke off last month after the two sides clashed over the oil-rich Heglig region along the border. Both countries claim the area.

South Sudan's information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said Tuesday Sudan is trying to sabotage the AU mediator's work.

“Sudan government is taking it (AU) for a ride all this time. Why would they be bombing when the special representative of the African Union is now in the south trying to arrange for the two countries to have peace talks?”

He described the bombings as a “slap in the face” of the U.N. Security Council and the African Union.

The two countries must still resolve questions about border demarcation, oil revenues and citizenship.

The United Nations has called on both sides to bridge their differences through peaceful negotiations.

The two countries formally split in July, when South Sudan declared independence from the north.