Official: Sudan warplanes bomb South Sudan
JUBA, South Sudan – Sudan resumed its aerial bombardment of South Sudan, violating international calls for a cessation of hostilities between the two countries, a South Sudanese military official said Wednesday.
Col. Kella Dual Kueth, deputy spokesman for the South Sudan military, said there were attacks Monday and Tuesday in the states of Upper Nile, Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
"Automatically it is a violation," Kueth said. "They always attack in the morning and (in the) evening, as usual."
Kueth did not say how many bombs were dropped or how many people were killed in attacks launched by Sudanese warplanes. He said he was not aware of any attacks Wednesday.
Khartoum has repeatedly denied it is carrying out a bombing campaign over southern territory, saying instead it is the victim of its southern neighbor's aggression.
The U.N. Security Council last month approved a resolution threatening nonmilitary sanctions against Sudan and South Sudan if they do not stop escalating violence and return to negotiations.
The African Union is now trying to help the two Sudans reach a settlement and avoid a return to all-out war. Although Sudan has endorsed the AU'S roadmap to peace, it insists on the right to defend itself militarily.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on both countries Wednesday "to disengage and resume post-independence negotiations."
"It is imperative that both sides stop any and all warfare by proxy, before it becomes too late," he said.
Ban also urged Sudan and South Sudan to immediately establish a joint body to monitor the disputed border, as required by the U.N. Security Council, which set a deadline of Wednesday.
He told the U.N. General Assembly that the government of Sudan must address "legitimate political and economic aspirations of its people in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, where humanitarian access should be immediately granted and a cessation of hostilities negotiated."
Kueth said the latest attacks suggest Sudan is not interested in peace talks with South Sudan.
"Maybe they want to decide not to go (for peace talks)," he said. "If they are genuine and really serious (about) making this peace process they could have gone before they attack. How could you attack and then you are going to a peace talk?"
The most recent fighting started last month after South Sudan's brief capture of the oil-rich town of Heglig, which is claimed and has since been reoccupied by Sudan.
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan last year but has outstanding issues with the north over oil revenue sharing and the border.
Meanwhile Wednesday, Sudan offered African tribesmen in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei its citizenship in an effort to woo them to the north. Abyei's fate was left unresolved when South Sudan split from Sudan.
In Khartoum, Interior Ministry official Salaheddin Khalifa told the official SUNA news agency the Sudanese government has decided that members of Abyei's Dinka Ngok tribe can become northern citizens.
Abyei is home to the African, south-aligned Dinka Ngok tribe but the land is also used by nomadic Arab tribesmen from the north for grazing cattle.
Associated Press writers Mohamed Saeed in Khartoum, Sudan, and Edith M. Lederer at the United Nations contributed to this report.