Sudanese exodus sweeps into Uganda

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The Independent Online
NAIROBI (Reuter) - More than 23,000 Sudanese have crossed into northern Uganda to escape an outbreak of fighting between Khartoum government forces and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), United Nations officials said yesterday.

A World Food Programme spokesman said in Nairobi that UN officials in the area reported that an estimated 50,000 more Sudanese villagers had fled from their homes near the Uganda border.

Reports from Uganda said most of the refugees had fled from Kaya, a town close to the border, after government troops moving south from the southern capital, Juba, attacked SPLA units in the area. Sources say Kaya, a main crossing-point into Sudan from Uganda for relief supplies, was heavily bombed last week and bombers from the Sudan air force were seen over the town.

Military analysts said that the government troops hoped to cut the rebels' supply links with Uganda.

Most of the refugees had crossed into the Koboko area of northern Uganda, where more than 10,000 Sudanese are already housed in refugee camps. The influx was threatening to exhaust the available food supplies in the area, UN officials said.

On Thursday the SPLA said its forces had driven off attacks by the Sudanese army, killing 126 government troops and wounding 180. The SPLA said 18 of its fighters were killed.

The Anglican Bishop of Kaya, Bishop Seme Solomona, was among the refugees who crossed into Uganda last week. He told reporters that all civilians had fled from the small town when he left.

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