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7 wounded in Sudanese airstrike in Upper Nile state

November 13, 2014 (JUBA) – At least seven people have been wounded after a Sudanese airstrike on a village in Upper Nile state, South Sudanese military officials said.

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A Sudanese Antonov at El Geneina airport. A military aircraft similar to this is suspected of carrying out attacks on South Sudan’s northern border states recently (FILE)

It is the second such attack suspected to have been carried out by the Sudanese military in less than a week.

The incident sparked widespread panic, forcing civilians to flee their homes.

The spokesman for the South Sudanese army (SPLA), Col. Philip Aguer, told Sudan Tribune that a Sudanese Antonov had launched a bomb attack on Maban county’s Kortumbak area on Wednesday about 3pm (local time).

“It is only Sudan that is capable of using [an] Antonov in the region and there is no doubt about that,” he said when asked what evidence existed that neighboring Sudan was responsible for the latest air attack.

Local authorities in Maban county told Sudan Tribune that two warplanes sighted as coming and returning from the direction of neighbouring Sudan around the time of the attack.

Maban county commissioner Tumati Nau said the planes had dropped several bombs, destroying properties and public infrastructure.

“I want to inform that warplanes coming from the direction of Sudan dropped several bombs yesterday (Wednesday), injuring seven civilians and destroying properties in [the] Kortumbak area,” he said.

“It caused panic and forced people to flee their homes into the bush to take cover,” he added.

Upper Nile state’s information Minister, Peter Hoth Tuach, also confirmed the incident in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Thursday, but did not provide further details.

SEPARATE ATTACK

This latest incident followed a separate attack on Yapta on 11 November, which caused widespread destruction.

It also comes less than two weeks after South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, visited Sudan in the wake of a similar attack on a village in Western Bahr el Ghazal state that left at least 35 people dead, according to authorities.

The SPLA has also blamed Khartoum for carrying out that attack.

However, the South Sudanese government has repeatedly declined to comment on aerial raids conducted in the country’s northern states.

Information minister Michael Makuei Lueth refused to take questions from journalists on Tuesday regarding the attack on Western Bahr el Ghazal’s Raga county, saying only that investigations were underway.

Kiir also decided against cancelling his planned visit to Sudan for talks with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir despite growing public outrage at the time over the attack.

JEM PRESENCE CAUSES CONCERN

A diplomatic source told Sudan Tribune that the South Sudanese government is increasingly concerned about the heavy presence of Sudanese rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), which has amassed hundreds of vehicles at its base in Raga county.

According to the source, JEM fighters have been moving into the area from South Kordofan since last month and are now seeking to regain control of the Darfur region.

Meanwhile, Aguer told reporters that the general command condemned such aggressive acts and was prepared to take the necessary measures to protect the loss of lives and properties.

“We don’t know the intention this of aggressive behavior, which is unacceptable. It is a clear violation of international law and the general command condemned it,” he said in reference to Wednesday’s attack.

However, he said there were no immediate plans to mount a military response to the attacks.

“These are issues to do with the relationship between two countries and the defence strategy of the government of South Sudan,” he said, adding “the SPLA, as a national army, will only act upon the instruction of the government.”

(ST)

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