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Violence forces Doctors Without Borders to suspend aid work in volatile part of South Sudan

CAIRO (AP) — Aid group Doctors Without Borders said it has been forced to suspend work in a volatile part of South Sudan because of attacks against his staff, as violence between rival tribes surges in the area.

The group, also known as Medecins Sans Frontieres, said Friday that armed men stole medical equipment from one of its health clinics twice this month in Jonglei state. Staff members have also been attacked while delivering aid, the organization said.

Heavily armed southern tribes have had to compete for scarce water and pasturage in the area. Clashes reignited more than a year ago and intensified beyond traditional cattle raids to include attacks on civilians across the entire south.

Aid agencies have said some 2,500 people were killed and 350,000 others were displaced in 2009 due to the violence.

A statement on Doctors Without Borders' website called on armed groups to respect its neutrality so it can resume providing aid. It said more than 160 malnourished children had been receiving treatment at its clinic in the Gumuruk area and that there were about 20 new cases each day.

A 20-year civil war between north and south Sudan ended in a peace agreement five years ago, but left the south awash in weapons. Sudan has continued to suffer widespread violence, including in its western Darfur region.