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South Sudan renews claims of Sudan’s backing for rebels

Sudan has renewed its support for rebel troops as they carry out raids along the border with South Sudan, the latter’s military said Thursday.

Col. Santos Dominic Chol, a spokesman for the South’s army, said fighters allied to former First Vice President Riek Machar had staged several attacks on army positions in Upper Nile state.

“The evidence we got is that rebels attacked SPLA [Sudanese People’s Liberation Army] positions in northern Upper Nile along the border with Sudan using Sudanese Armed Forces [SAF] uniforms and equipment,” he told Anadolu Agency.

The military claimed Sudanese support included arms, ammunition and logistics.

On Tuesday, Machar’s forces, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, said they had taken control of a strategic base near the Sudanese border.

“The rebels launched attacks against the SPLA in Kuek and Ghabat on June 9 and 11,” Chol said, cited by the Sudan Tribune news outlet.

“The SPLA thought it was SAF doing the attack. But it became clear in the process of fighting that the rebels are the ones attacking SPLA using SAF uniforms, war hardware and logistics.”

He added: “The capabilities used by the rebels in these operations indicate that the rebels have received military support from neighboring Sudan.” The rebels dismissed the allegations as “baseless”.

Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, which gained independence from its northern neighbor in 2011, are centered on issues such as disputed borders in oil-rich Abyei and Heglig.

South Sudan’s accession from Khartoum followed two decades of civil war. However, the country has been riven by conflict since 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of planning a coup.

Meanwhile, Uganda denied reports that its troops had returned to South Sudan.

Brig. Richard Karemire, spokesman for the Uganda People’s Defense Force, said: “There have been no secret talks between President Yoweri Museveni and President Salva Kiir to return the UPDF into South Sudan.

“We are not looking into returning to South Sudan because there is no danger to our territory as a country.”

Uganda withdrew its troops from South Sudan in November 2015 after more than a year’s deployment.


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