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Hundreds protest in W. Bahr el Ghazal over Sudan bomb attack

November 3, 2014 (WAU) – Hundred of residents in Western Bahr el Ghazal capital Wau took to the streets on Monday to protest over an alleged air attack carried out by Sudanese forces.

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Demonstrators in Wau, the capital of South Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state, protesting against a ground and air attack allegedly launched by Sudanese Armed Forces in Kitkit, 119 kilometer north of its Raja County (WBGS courtesy photo)

Two Sudanese war planes allegedly attacked Raja county’s densely populated Khor-Shamam area overnight on Saturday, releasing more than 30 bombs.

According to the Raja county commissioner Hassan Jallab, 35 civilians were killed in the attack, while at least 17 others were wounded.

Most of the dead and injured were women and children, who were sleeping at the time of the attack.

Protesters marched through the streets to the state council of ministers where there delivered a petition to the state government, calling on Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir to end attacks on South Sudanese territory.

They were received by acting governor Zackaria Joseph Garang who also urged the Sudanese leader to refrain from aggressive military action.

“We condemn the attack and we are calling on the international community to urgently investigate the incidents and bring Sudan to an account for killing people of South Sudan while we become an independent nation,” protesters said in a statement, warning that any repeated attack would be met with a military response.

“We cannot allow our innocent people to die at the hands of [a] foreign attack; we have to protect our people,” they added.

KIIR WON’T CANCEL TRIP

Meanwhile, South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has confirmed he will not cancel his planned visit to Sudan for talks with Bashir despite growing outrage over the attack on Raja county.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Tuesday to discuss outstanding issues between the two countries, including a peace deal between South Sudan’s government and its rebel forces.

Presidential spokesperson Ateny Wek Ateny told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the trip had already been planned and would go ahead as scheduled.

“The president will not cancel the trip in the wake of this unfortunate development. It would be wise he goes so that he brings it up during the visit. It will actually be one of the issues to be discussed,” said Ateny.

While addressing the protesters at the council of ministers, Garang said that a Sudanese war plane was seen on Friday flying over Raja town.

The ruling party’s state secretary, Valantino Majok Majok, described the bombing of Raja as a combined attack planned between South Sudanese rebel forces under the command of former vice-president Riek Machar and the Sudanese government.

South Sudanese government and rebel forces have been locked in an armed struggle since mid-December last year after a political split in the country’s ruling party turned violent.

The spokesperson of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Khaled al-Sawarmi was not available for comment.

However, in previous air attacks similar to Sunday’s raid, the Sudanese army denies carrying out strikes inside the South Sudanese territory saying they bombed rebel elements sneaking from Darfur into South Sudan.

Khartoum and Juba used to trade accusations of support to rebel groups from both sides.

Recently South Sudanese officials repeatedly accused Sudan of providing support to pro-Machar forces who deny the claims.

Majok said Sudan’s support to the opposition group was evident when rebels carrying a Sudanese flag launched an attack on Unity state capital Bentiu.

South Sudanese army (SPLA) spokesperson Phillip Aguer confirmed the incident in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday, saying an investigation team was due to be dispatched to Raja on Tueaday.

“We are still establishing the make of the plane [involved in the attack], but what we know is that the plane came from the direction of Sudan,” he said.

“We are yet waiting for more reports on this,” he added.

(ST)

- S. Sudan accuses Sudanese army of killing 35 in air raids