ADDIS ABABA/KHARTOUM, April 4 (Reuters) - South Sudan accused Sudan of
launching air strikes in the border region on Wednesday, hours after the
postponement of talks aimed at defusing the worst clashes since the South
The Sudanese army denied any attack.
The neighbours have fought repeatedly in the past few days along the poorly
marked 1,800-km (1,200-mile) border, the worst direct confrontation since
the South split away in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of
Western nations fear the clashes could reignite a full-blown war between the
mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist South, with rival claims
on oil resources a key part of the conflict.
South Sudan's top negotiator, Pagan Amum, said Sudanese MiG-29 jets bombed
the garrison town of Panakuach in Unity state after talks sponsored by the
African Union had been postponed with no deal signed and no indication of
"One (jet) has been shot down in Panakuach. This is very clear, it's
war-mongering that made them not to sign," he said.
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khalid Saad denied there had been an air
strike or that a plane had been lost.
"Today it was quiet," he said.
The charges came as talks between the two countries were postponed after
Khartoum asked for more time to consider an African Union proposal to ease
The proposal called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the
withdrawal of armed forces from each other's territories and preparations
for a meeting of the two presidents.
Pagan told Reuters his country had accepted the proposal.
But Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein told reporters
on his return home that Khartoum needed more time to discuss the proposal.
He said Juba needed to stop supporting rebels in Sudan's border states of
South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Juba denies any support for rebels of the
SPLM-North, which has been fighting the Sudanese army in the two states
since last year.
Sudan analysts see little chance of any breakthrough in the talks after
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir called off an April 3 summit with
his southern counterpart Salva Kiir following the violence.
Apart from marking their border, the two sides are also at odds over oil,
the lifeline of both economies.
Juba inherited three quarters of Sudan's output but failed to agree how much
it should pay to export crude through Sudan.
In January, Sudan said it was taking southern oil in lieu of what it called
unpaid transit fees. In response, Juba turned off the oil taps even though
crude accounts for 98 percent of South Sudan's state revenues. (Editing by
Ulf Laessing and Matthew Tostevin)
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Received on Thu Apr 05 2012 - 08:25:06 EDT