September 11, 2013 (BENTIU) – Satellite imagery released by US-based advocacy group the Enough Project’s shows evidence of recent aerial bombardment near the village of Jau in South Sudan’s Unity state, which falls within the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ) between the two Sudans.
The images, which were captured on 8 September by Enough’s affiliated Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), show two craters - one measuring about seven metres in diameter.
Sources on the ground reported that a Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) jet dropped a bomb on a South Sudanese military (SPLA) installation in Jau on 7 September, killing two people and injuring six.
The Sudanese army has yet to verify the claims.
The attack came just days after South Sudanese president Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer al-Bashir held a summit in Khartoum where they recommitted themselves to peaceful relations and the enforcement of nine bilateral cooperation agreements signed last September.
SPLA commander of Unity state’s fourth division, Major Gen. James Koang Chuol, said a soldier and his wife had been killed in the blast, while another six people, including a four-year-old girl, were reportedly injured.
A team from the countries’ Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mission (JBVMM) was in Unity state at the time of the attack and later travelled to the bomb site to investigate.
The JBVMM inspectors, who were in the area investigating claims that the SPLA had been violating the demilitarised zone, have yet to publicly comment on the latest attack.
Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast said the unprovoked attack would increase the likelihood of further instability in the region.
“The two countries have already skirmished over Jau twice since South Sudan’s independence [in July 2011]. Combined with rising tensions around Abyei’s scheduled referendum, actions such as these nudge the two countries closer to war than to peace”, he said.
Akshaya Kumar, a policy analyst with the Enough Project, said the satellite imagery offers independent proof of Sudan’s illegal use of force against its neighbour.
She called on the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to condemn the latest bombardment when it meets later this month in New York, saying that it must step up pressure on both presidents to implement their signed agreements.