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UPDATE - S. Sudan accuses Khartoum of fresh bombardments in Unity State

February 15, 2013 (JUBA/KHARTOUM) - Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) dropped seven bombs in Jau area of South Sudan’s Unity state on Thursday, instantly killing two people and eight cows, the Parieng County Commissioner told Sudan Tribune.

"The attack took place at about 6:30pm. A woman and a man who was herding cattle were killed, while 27 cows were wounded in the bombardment", Majok Gatdet Deng said by phone from Parieng on Saturday.

On Friday, the spokesman of South Sudan government accused neighbouring Khartoum of carrying out fresh aerial bombardments in Unity state territories, the latest in a series of attacks blamed on the Sudanese army.

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South Sudan information minister Benjamin Marial (ST)

"Yesterday [Thursday], the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) bombed the northern part of Jau in Unity State. We don’t know what their intention is,” Benjamin Maria told a media briefing in Juba, the South Sudan capital.

"The Government of South Sudan strongly condemns this belligerent attitude of the Sudan government on the lives of our innocent people," he added.

Sustained efforts, Marial said, were underway to uncertain the damage cause by aerial bombardments, which reportedly occurred at about 4:00pm local time.

Hilde F. Johnson, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) confirmed in Juba the incident, which she said took place in two Unity state locations.

"We have received reports from the SPLA and Unity state authorities that SAF aerial bombing took place in Dar and Jau yesterday on February14. The reports we received was about 17hrs in Dar and 18:30hrs in Jau", Johnson said at a press conference Friday.

"We have looked at the two places, they are located in what is seen by the AUHIP [African Union High Level Implementation Panel] as a contested area, and this means we are not in a position to verify, she pointed out.

Sudan and South Sudan failed to agree on the implementation of the security arrangements and the operationalisation of a buffer zone in the disputed areas. The two countries also resumed accusations over support to rebel groups from both sides.

In Khartoum, there was no statements from the Sudanese army about this air attack. Only, the Sudanese army said it seized 50 trucks loaded with goods heading to the South Sudan from South Kordofan.

The announcement confirms reports that Khartoum has re-imposed the trade embargo against the southern neighbour after an announcement of its lift following the signing of 27 September agreement.

However, the American Embassy in Khartoum issued a statement on Friday urging the two countries to "refrain immediately from any actions that could further destabilize the border areas between South Sudan and Sudan".

The statement mentioned clashes between the two armies "in the disputed border areas between Upper Nile (South Sudan) and Blue Nile (Sudan) states, including reports of Sudanese helicopters crossing into South Sudan and the artillery bombardment by Sudanese armed forces of South Sudanese troops".

The embassy also expressed concern about the increase in negative rhetoric between the two countries "which together with these reports of military clashes is leading to an dangerous increase in tension along the undemarcated border".

(ST)