A boy and at least one other person was killed and at least two people were wounded yesterday when Sudanese aircraft bombed an area near a major town in South Sudan, an official and witness said, increasing the threat of a full-scale war breaking out between the two nations.
The bombing came hours after Sudanese armed forces launched an attack on Sunday more than 9km inside South Sudan’s border. The attacks come a day after South Sudan said it had completed its pullout from a disputed border region to avoid an all-out war between the two neighbors.
Major General Mac Paul, South Sudan’s deputy director of military intelligence, said that two MiG-29 jets belonging to Sudan dropped three bombs, two of which landed near a bridge that connects Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, and Rubkona.
Mac Paul said the other bomb exploded in Rubkona market, a major population area.
“The bombing amounts to a declaration of war,” Mac Paul said.
A reporter saw the body of a boy killed in the market blast and at least two people wounded.
Sudan and South Sudan have been drawing closer to war in recent months over the sharing of oil revenues and a disputed border.
Sunday’s attack came hours after a Muslim mob burnt a Catholic church in Sudan frequented mostly by South Sudanese. The church in Khartoum’s al-Jiraif District was built on a disputed plot of land, but the Saturday night incident appeared to be part of the fallout from ongoing hostilities between Sudan and South Sudan over the oil-rich town of Heglig.
More than 1,000 South Sudanese troops died during the battle for Sudan’s main oilfield, the Sudanese armed forces commander said yesterday, as a stench of death filled the air.
“The numbers of killed from SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] are 1,200,” Kamal Marouf said during an address to thousands of troops in the area.
The toll is impossible to verify, but a who accompanied Marouf said the putrid bodies of dead South Sudanese soldiers lay beneath trees that are scattered about the area.
He said the number of bodies was so large they were “uncountable.”
Corpses bore the South Sudanese flag on their uniforms.
From the main road, destroyed oil-company vehicles could be seen.
Mac Paul said late on Sunday that South Sudan was building up its forces because they think Sudan is also doing the same.
Talks between the two countries over the unresolved disputes, that were being mediated by the African Union (AU), broke down in Ethiopia earlier this month.
The AU on Sunday called on Sudan and South Sudan to end “senseless fighting.”
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July last year after an independence vote, the culmination of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war that killed more than 2 million people. Despite the treaty, violence between the two countries has been on the rise.