May 22, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan on Tuesday accused the government of neighbouring Sudan of resuming attacks it said were largely targeting civilian populations, resulting in the destruction of properties and settlements.
- South Sudanese Minister of Information Barnaba Benjamin Marial, right, and Military Spokesman Philip Aguer brief the media on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 (AP)
Juba made the announcement a day after the chair of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and former South African president, Thabo Mbeki, visited the country’s capital Juba where he held talks with senior government officials including president Salva Kiir.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, minister of information and media affairs, Barnaba Benjamin Marial, accused Sudan of resuming what he described as “wanton attacks”, allegedly intended to provoke a response from the South Sudanese army (SPLA), in order to scupper future talks.
“This is a clear violation of the African Union roadmap and the resolution of the United Nations Security Council,” said Marial, describing it a “slap in the face” of the international community.
Marial claimed that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) attacks were taking place during Mbeki’s visit.
He said his government condemned the attacks in the strongest terms possible and wants the international community to be aware that South Sudan has a constitutional right and obligation to respond to “such aggression within our territories.”
Juba received criticism from the international community for the occupation of disputed Heglig region in April. With regards to the current alleged wave of aggression, Marial said, “we do not need to be blamed again.”
Speaking at the same briefing, Phillip Aguer, spokesman of the SPLA, said Khartoum had resumed indiscriminate aerial attacks on territories of South Sudan.
Aguer said the SAF attacks took place on Monday and Tuesday, and were “largely targeting innocent civilian settlements” in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. An SPLA position in Warguet was also targeted, according to Aguer.
He called on the AU to “watch Khartoum’s actions at the border” as he envisages further hostilities. The current attacks which he wants the international community to be aware of are both air and ground based and include an incursion on Upper Nile State on 15 May.
Aguer claimed the 15 May attack took place north of Wedakona in Unity State. He said a SAF attack on the area was immediately repulsed by the SPLA, back to White Nile State.
"At the same time a convoy of militia forces left 23km near Panthou [Heglig] with the clear intention of committing a sabotage attack on Abiemnom and Mayom in Unity State,” Aguer added.