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UN Chief Condemns Continued Sudanese Air Strikes On South Sudan

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned Sudan's continued aerial bombing of a border region inside neighboring South Sudan, and urged both nations to resolve their border dispute in a peaceful manner.

In a statement, he called on the Sudanese government to cease all hostilities immediately, and reiterated that "there can be no military solution to the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan."

The U.N. chief also urged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as well as his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir "to stop the slide toward further confrontation and... to return to dialogue as a matter of urgency."

His remarks came after media reports citing witnesses indicated that Sudanese warplanes bombed Bentiu town in South Sudan's Unity state on Monday. The bombing reportedly began by about 08:30 a.m. local time, hitting the Rubkona market and killing at least one person and injuring four others.

"These indiscriminate bombings resulting in the loss of civilian lives must stop," said the U.N. chief's Special Representative and head of the peacekeeping operation known as the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), Hilde F. Johnson, in a separate statement issued earlier on Monday.

"I remind the parties to the conflict of their obligation to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law, take all measures not to harm civilians, and guarantee the safety of international aid organizations and United Nations personnel and assets," she added.

Separately, Sudanese President Bashir stated while addressing a gathering earlier on Monday that his government would not engage in further talks with South Sudan to resolve the border conflict. He said the South Sudanese government only understood the "language of the gun and ammunition."

The latest development comes after South Sudan withdrew its troops from Sudan's oil-rich Heglig border region late last week after seizing it an earlier military operation. Nevertheless, Sudanese military insisted that the withdrawal was forced by an offensive launched by its troops.

Sudan had earlier pledged to use "all legitimate means" to recapture the oil field and warned of "destruction" in the South. Sudan also withdrew from negotiations on post-secession issues with the South and lodged separate complaints with the United Nations as well as the African Union about South Sudan's "aggression."

Border clashes between Sudan and South Sudan erupted late last month, marking the biggest confrontation between the two sides after South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July last in line with a 2005 peace agreement ending 22 years of civil war between the Arab North and the Christian and animist South. More than 100,000 people are said to have been displaced by the ongoing hostilities.

The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday last urged Sudan and South Sudan to enforce a "complete, immediate, unconditional" end to all fighting. The Council also said it was considering a slew of measures, including possible sanctions, to pressurize the two nations to end their ongoing conflict.

South Sudan had gained control of nearly 75 percent of Sudan's oil production with a daily output of around 500,000 barrels when they declared independence on July 9 last year. The two nations are yet to resolve several outstanding post-secession issues and settle disputes over oil transit fees. Both countries are heavily dependent on oil revenues. South Sudan recently suspended its oil production because of the dispute with Sudan over oil transit fees.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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