Sudan clashes with South Sudan


Sudanese soldiers stand to attention during President Omar al-Bashir's visit to the Popular Defence Forces in Khartoum on March 3, 2012.


Ebrahim Hamid

NAIROBI, Kenya — The two Sudans have been accusing each other of backing rebels on either side of the disputed oil-rich border that since July has separated north from south, but on Monday their armies clashed directly.

The South accused the northern army, the SAF, of carrying out aerial bombardments of two areas, Jau and Pan Akuach, and launching a ground attack on a third, Teshwin.

The North accused the southern army, the SPLA, of occupying the Heglig oil field which both Juba and Khartoum claim. The SPLA said its occupation of Heglig was "a self-defence measure."

This week's direct clashes immediately worsened the already poisonous relations between North and South who are gridlocked over a series of issues including border demarcation and the sharing of oil revenues.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir cancelled a planned visit to Juba next week to attend a summit meeting with South Sudan President Salva Kiir.

The renewed fighting has the international community worried. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned."

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