November 23, 2012 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese cabinet on Friday passed a resolution condemning the "continuous unprovoked attacks" by the Sudanese army in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, while the army said its forces are on high alert.
- A member of the SPLA plays a trombone in Juba (Photo Getty)
"The council of ministers in its sitting of today chaired by President Salva Kiir Mayardit received reports of repeated attacks on the state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in which some civilians have been killed. They have been carried out by the Sudanese armed forces for the last four days, in areas which are inside the territory of South Sudan," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan’s Minister of Information on Friday.
Marial further said the council unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attack and called on the international community to hold Sudan responsible for the loss of lives and properties in the area.
"They came again today but we have not yet received details but it is likely there must be reports," Marial added.
The Sudanese army denied attacking the South Sudanese territory of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal stressing that its attacks are limited to the neighbouring East Darfur State where it had spoke about newly established rebel camps, 10 kilometers north of the disputed area ’Mile 14’ area.
Al-Sawarmi Khaled, the Sudanese army spokesperson, also accused Juba of continuing to back the rebels groups which constitute the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), violating a security deal were the two sides committed to stop such support.
The Sudanese army has remained silent on its activities on the borders with the South Sudan.
SPLA spokesperson, Philip Aguer, on Thursday accused Khartoum of massing troops along the border near Raja in Raja County in Western Bahr el Ghazal adding that their intention is to carry out ground attacks inside South Sudanese territory.
Major General Santino Deng Wol, commander of the SPLA’s Division III told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the SPLA forces are on a high state of alert, closely monitoring the movement of Sudanese troops. He said that planes were in the area but had not carried out air attacks.
"They were hovering about. We have also been reliably informed of their activities. We are fully aware but as an army we just cannot act without receiving orders. We are waiting for directives and instructions from the general command," Wol further told Sudan Tribune from Wunyiik, an army base in the area.
General Wol said he returned from a field visit to SPLA advanced positions in areas around Abyei and Twic county to find that some parts of Aweil North County have been completely deserted by civilians due to aerial bombardments carried out by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
He added that is planning to visit the affected areas "soon so that I see the damage caused by these bombardments myself and to talk with the commissioner to encourage civilians to dig trenches in their houses instead of allowing themselves to be killed by flying shrapnel and bombs out of fears.
At least 7 people, most of whom civilians, predominantly women and children have died in air attacks allegedly carried out by Sudanese armed forces since Tuesday, according to local officials. Several others have sustained injuries and unkn own number of civilians have been displaced.
Although Sudan has denied any involvement in the attack, local officials and the South Sudan Army (SPLA) say there is clear evidence that (SAF) have bombed the area.
Madut Dut Yel, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State’s acting governor, commended the army for showing restraint, saying that Sudan’s attempts to “drag the new nation back to war" are not in the interest of the citizens of the two countries.
"The need for peace to prevail between the two countries could clearly be seen from how Sudanese celebrated the signing of the cooperation agreement when president Bashir returned to Khartoum. They started crossing with goods before implementation process of the agreement has actually been officially started," Yel told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
He commended local youth for their reaction to the bombing, many have helped the elderly, pregnant women and the children leave the area, he said.
The Acting Governor said they will not respond to Khartoum’s military provocations aiming at returning the two countries to war.
We are committed "to the objective of having two viable states although someone [the Khartoum government] is trying to derails these efforts. We will remain committed to respecting policy of our national government and the leadership of the SPLM."
"If we hit back, then we shall have helped Sudan to accomplish its purposes and goals of wanting the two countries to return to war because this is the tactic which officials in [Sudan’s ruling] National Congress Party employed to remain in power," he further said.
Mel Wal Achien, who represents the area as an Member of Parliament in the National Assembly in Juba, said the Sudanese army want to empty the area from the South Sudanese population before capturing.
The Sudan Armed Forces have been bombed villages deep inside South Sudan, "which are not located anywhere near military positions", Achien told Sudan Tribune on Friday.
The bombing was a tactic, Achien said, to drive the civil population from the area in order to occupy it. "These are the tactics which Sudan employs and we know them, I am a soldier myself", said the MP who fought in the SPLA during the two-decade civil war that resulted in a 2005 and South Sudan’s independence six years later.
He called on the population to not lose trust and confidence in the capability of the SPLA to protect them and their properties from external aggression, explaining that the army will not allow a ground attack.
Deng Thiep Akok, former commissioner of Aweil County, said he had not received news suggesting their were any fresh bomb attacks on Friday. Akok also assured civilians in the area that the country’s has not relinquished its duties to protect the new country’s territory and resources.
South Sudan’s army and politicians are "giving diplomatic efforts and peace a chance, but are also prepared for the possibility if the peace cannot hold. They know when to act accordingly," he said.
Colonel Phillip Aguer, spokesperson of South Sudan army (SPLA), also said his office did not receive reports of new aerial bombardments on Friday but that the army was closely monitoring activities of the Sudan Armed Forces along the border and was on maximum alert.