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Sudan on brink of new oil war as air force bombs refugee camp

The Sudanese air force today flew a sortie across the international border with South Sudan, and bombed a refugee camp

THE ATTACK comes as South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit today accused Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum of plotting to invade. Local officials claimed at least 12 people were killed in the raid and 20 injured, but this could not be independently verified.

In a statement issued by his office today, Kiir said: “[On Saturday], Bashir issued very serious statements about the Republic of South Sudan, which clearly indicated he was already on the offensive against us.”

An official in Unity state said he believed the death toll from today’s attack at the Yida refugee camp, just 15 kms from the border, could rise. Around 15,000 refugees who fled escalating violence in Sudan were living at Yida, according to reports. On Monday, Sudanese military jets bombed the village of Gufa, in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state close to the Sudanese border. Seven people were killed in the attack.

Today Kiir warned Bashir that while his country remained committed to finding a peaceful resolution to conflict, it “would never allow its sovereignty to be violated in any way”.

South Sudan declared its independence from the north on 9 July this year. However, a number of issues remain outstanding between the new neighbours, the most crucial of which hinges on oil. Sudan lost 75% of its pre-independence output of 500,000 barrels a day after South Sudan’s secession, but controls the country’s only export pipeline and deep-water port. The only viable export route for South Sudan’s oil production – which accounts for 98% of the new nation’s income – is through Sudan.

The only viable export route for South Sudan’s oil production – which accounts for 98% of the new nation’s income – is through Sudan

But the two sides have yet to agree a deal allowing South Sudan access to export infrastructure. A border demarcation dispute has also added to tensions. In the past two months, relations between the two countries have deteriorated severely.

Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Earlier this month, Bashir’s government lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council alleging South Sudan was backing rebels in Blue Nile, which lies on Sudan’s border with South Sudan.

South Sudan vehemently denies the allegations. Today, Kiir again denied any links. “We do not have anything to do with them militarily or politically,” he said. “All these accusations are a prelude to justify their pending actions against South Sudan. Tomorrow, when Bashir invades South Sudan, then he will say yes he took the action to revenge what was being done to him.”

Kiir added: “Bashir thinks that it was a mistake to hand over South Sudan to Africans and he will recapture it and reunite Sudan for good.”

The US State Department has condemned the Upper Nile state bombings, saying the "unacceptable and unjustified" attacks increase the potential of conflict between Sudan and South Sudan.

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