Sudan Ceasefire Shattered After Surprise Air Raid

By : Subscribe to Oliver's | May 4, 2012 7:56 PM IST

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A fragile 48-hour ceasefire between Sudan and South Sudan was shattered Friday after the South accused Khartoum of launching an air strike on one of its oil regions.

Just hours after the alleged raid, Sudan pledged to cease hostilities with the South, warning it retained the right to defend itself against "aggression" from the south.

"The minister of foreign affairs (Ali Karti) announces that the government of Sudan welcomes the UN Security Council resolution which was issued on Wednesday," said a statement from the ministry's spokesman.

"The minister further announces that the government of Sudan will fully commit to what has been issued in the resolution about stopping hostilities with South Sudan according to the time limits issued."

The disputed 1,200-mile border between the two countries had been quiet for the previous 48 hours, raising hopes that both sides would enter formal talks ending the latest conflict sparked by the seizure the Sudanese oil province of Heglig.

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South Sudan's army (SPLA) spokesman, Philip Aguer, told Reuters on Friday that Sudan had launched a two-pronged attack.

"There was an aerial bombardment in Lalop at Unity state at 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Thursday," he said, speaking from Juba.

"At the same time our position in Teshween was shelled using ground artillery."

A Sudanese army spokesman denied the accusations, calling them a "lie."

"The ministry points out in light of the repeated attacks and aggressions that South Sudan's army is carrying out ... the Sudanese armed forces will find itself forced to use the right to self-defense," the Sudanese foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

After weeks of back-and-forth violence, Sudan declared a state of emergency along its border with South Sudan on Sunday, with Sudanese authorities having ordered that 12,000 ethnic South Sudanese people leave the country within a week.

The United Nations on Wednesday passed a resolution threatening both sides with sanctions unless they stopped fighting and resumed talks within two weeks.

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