South Sudan: Sudan aerial bombardment kills 7

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Sudan carried out aerial bombardments on the northern part of South Sudan in the last three days, killing seven people and wounding others, a South Sudanese official said Friday, accusing their northern neighbor of breaking an agreement between the two countries to end hostilities.

Sudanese Antonov planes dropped more than 27 bombs in a disputed region near the village of Kiir Adem in northern Bahr el Ghazal State, said Col. Philip Aguer the spokesman for South Sudan's military.

The attack is in violation of a security agreement signed between the two countries 54 days ago to end hostilities, he said. South Sudan is also accusing Sudan of frustrating its efforts to resume oil production.

"They have been doing this for a number of years in defiance of the international community... you cannot be wanting peace and bomb innocent civilians," Aguer said.

He said the South Sudan military has taken up defensive positions and will act in accordance with the country's constitution to defend its citizens if they see movement of ground troops from Sudan's side.

Sudanese military spokesman, Col. Sawarmy Khalid Saad, said that government forces did not hit areas in South Sudan, but were battling rebels nearby the Rigaibat region in the East Darfur state.

"We were surprised by the accusations leveled (against us) by South Sudan that we have attacked a position of their forces inside Bahr al-Ghazal," he said Thursday in a statement aired on state radio and TV.

He said the accusations amounted to "an open admission" by the government of South Sudan that it supports militarily and logistically rebels inside Sudan, where he said Sudanese military forces are carrying out operations.

"The presence of the South Sudanese army in Rigaibat region is a flagrant military intervention in our territories and we have full right to deal with it as an aggressive force and this was what has happened," the spokesman said.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan last year after decades of conflict between the north and south. The South seceded after an independence vote that was the culmination of a 2005 peace treaty that ended decades of war that killed more than 2 million people. The two countries have unresolved issues on border demarcation and distribution of oil.

South Sudan suspended oil production in January after accusing Sudan of stealing its crude. Sudan said it was taking the oil in lieu of unpaid transport fees. Border clashes escalated in April when South Sudan troops took over an oil town in a region Sudan claims as its own.

South Sudan's president said the delay in resuming oil production is being caused by fresh demands by Sudan which owns the pipeline through which crude is to be transported. Kiir said Sudan is demanding that South Sudan denounces support for rebels in its Blue Nile and South Kordofan in Sudanese territory. Kiir said Sudan is looking for an excuse to block oil production. South Sudan has denied supporting the rebels.

Kiir's comments came two days after the U.S. raised concerns over the implementation of Sept. 27 agreements signed by the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan, on the sharing of oil wealth and the demilitarization of a zone between their borders.

Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Department of State spokeswoman, said in a statement Monday that the creation of the safe demilitarized border zone between the two countries is vital to ensure that both the countries honor their commitments to cease-fire.

Nuland said no progress was made during a Nov. 6-7 meeting between representatives of the South Sudan and Sudan over the implementation of the agreements and called on the countries to recommit themselves.

"We are also disappointed by the delays in the resumption of oil production. This denies much needed revenue to both economies and we urge both parties to resume production while they work to resolve other bilateral issues," she said.

South Sudan's independence reduced Sudan's revenues by nearly three-quarters. Oil accounted for nearly 98 percent of South Sudan's revenue, and its economy has suffered during the shutdown.

South Sudan says it will still pursue plans to build an alternative pipeline so it doesn't have to export oil through Sudan. Juba has signed memoranda of understanding with Djibouti and Ethiopia as well as Kenya as potential partners in a new pipeline.

Some analysts predict that South Sudan's oil reserves will decline in the next few years, making the pipeline project impractical. But South Sudan says the country expects its oil production to increase over the next five years, making the construction of a new pipeline a priority.

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Associated Press writer Mohamed Osman contributed to this report from Khartoum, Sudan

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