Sudan shootout kills 20 ahead of split

At least 20 people died in a shootout between Sudanese soldiers in a southern town, the military said, warning there was a risk of more clashes as the country divided its forces before the south becomes independent.



Fighting with mortars and heavy machineguns broke out in Malakal on Thursday and again yesterday when part of a military unit refused to redeploy with its weapons to the north - part of a separation of forces before the secession of south Sudan.



An overwhelming majority of people from the oil-producing south voted to split from the north in a referendum in January, according to preliminary results released this week.



The referendum was promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended a decades-long civil war between north and south that also set southern tribe against southern tribe, in internal conflicts that have left deep scars.



Northern and southern leaders still have to finalise how they will share out military hardware and security forces - as well as oil revenues and debts - before the south's departure, expected on July 9. Many fear tensions could re-emerge during the negotiations.



"This morning the number of dead (in Malakal) has risen to 20, and this could change at any moment. Searches are continuing and many are wounded ... Both sides were firing mortars and heavy machineguns," said southern army spokesman Philip Aguer.



The dead included two children and a Sudanese driver for the United Nations' refugee agency UNHCR, officials said yesterday.



Malakal is currently patrolled by a combined military unit made up of the north's Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), a force the UN said was in the process of splitting up before the south's independence.



"SAF are supposed to go north, SPLA stay in the south," said Aguer.



The situation was complicated by the fact that the SAF unit included many southern soldiers drawn from a militia that fought alongside the north during the civil war.



Aguer said it was those southern soldiers in the SAF unit who resisted the redeployment north and began exchanging fire with other members of the same SAF unit.



"This fighting could happen anywhere where SAF has employed former militia. They are not real soldiers and don't understand the arrangement," he told Reuters.



He said the SPLA set up a buffer zone between the two sides and one SPLA soldier died after being caught in the crossfire.



UNHCR staff held a minute's silence in tribute to driver John James Okwath, 26, who died in hospital on Friday after being shot in the chest, the agency said in a statement.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cancer Research UK: Corporate Partnerships Volunteer Events Coordinator – London

Voluntary: Cancer Research UK: We’re looking for someone to support our award ...

Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

£70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

£28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road