South Sudan accuses north of provocation

The south Sudanese army on Friday accused the north’s troops of provoking it, with the intention of breaking a ceasefire agreement between the two halves of the conflict-wracked country.

Colonel Philip Aguer Panyang, spokesperson for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), told the Sudan Tribune newspaper that soldiers from the Sudan Armed Forced were “always aggressive and provocative.”

He also accused them of going on a shooting spree in the border town of Melut earlier this week, in which several people were killed and others seriously injured. They had also targeted SPLA bases and a United Nations office in the area, he said.

South Sudan is due to hold a referendum in January on whether to secede or remain in the power-sharing government of national unity in Khartoum.

Khartoum is opposed to the breakaway of the region, which holds sizable oil reserves.

‘There will be no return to war’
Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein and his SPLA counterpart, Nhial Deng Nhial, had said in a joint statement issued in Khartoum on Thursday that all further disputes would be solved through dialogue.

“We wanted to send a message to our citizens, both in the north and south, that there will be no return to war,” Nhial told reporters. “Regardless of the amount of differences, they will be resolved through political dialogue.”

Some 4 million people were killed in the 21-year-long conflict between north and south, which ended in 2005. — Sapa-DPA

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