Sudan Continues its Bombing of Civilians

Heglig fighting
The aftermath of previous bombings in Heglig

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) jets bombed Rubkotna bridge in Unity State, South Sudan on Saturday killing four civilians, injuring four, and killing one soldier according to Mac Paul, deputy director of South Sudan’s military intelligence.

South Sudan’s minister of information and broadcasting, Barnaba Marial also said that a SAF Mig 29 bombed Bentiu, the capital of Unity State, on Saturday, killing five people and wounding six.

Paul said SAF intended to cut a supply route to the South Sudan army, (SPLA) which is currently involved in conflict with SAF in the most serious deterioration of relations between Juba and Khartoum since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended the Sudanese civil war in 2005.

On Friday the SPLA announced it had repulsed an attack on the disputed town of Heglig in an attempt by SAF to retake it. Juba claimed to have seized control of Heglig 9 April in response to a SAF attack on Unity State.

However, late on Saturday SAF’s spokesperson, Khaled Al-Sawarmi, claimed their army was within “few kilometers from Heglig town and oilfield”.

Paul also alleged that an Anatov jet, as used by SAF, was seen above South Sudan’s capital, Juba, at 11.00pm on Friday.

“Sudan has continued with its aggression against the republic of South Sudan. Today, its air force unleashed its deadly arsenal against the innocent people of the republic of South Sudan,” Marial, told journalists on Saturday.

He also claimed a SAF Anatov bombed Abiemnom County, Unity State and Ajakkuac, Warrap State at 1.30pm. The number of casualties is not yet known.

He urged the UN and AU to stop Khartoum’s “senseless killing of ordinary civilians” in South Sudan, explaining that South Sudan will be lodging a formal complaint with the UN.

Antipas Nyok, secretary for political affairs in South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement said on Saturday that they were “never interested in returning the two countries to war”. He claimed that their counterpart in Khartoum, the National Congress Party, was warmongering in order to control its own domestic politics and retain the seat of power.

Nyok said Khartoum had misinterpreted Juba’s response to their invasion of the disputed Abyei area in 2011 as a sign of weakness. He described it as a indicative of Juba’s wish to resolve the issue without conflict.

He also claimed “Panthou [Heglig] has never been part of Sudan”.

“It was made to be a contested area by the successive regime in Sudan which was first started by the late former president Jaffar Nimery. It was Nimery who had first wanted to annex resources rich areas in the south to the north. That was why he named the Western Upper Nile province as Unity State. This was after discovery of the oil in the area. He wanted to unite the resources and land where these resources are extricated not people”, Nyok explained.

He added that the Permanent Court of Arbitration 2009 ruling on border demarcation, which placed Heglig outside of Abyei, concentrated on areas under the chieftancy of the nine Dinka Ngok and that it did not demarcate the North-South border.