Friday, May 27, 2011

Fears of Civil War Reignite as Violence Flares Up In Sudan

Despite the vote calling for a partition of Sudan into a North and South Sudan, violence has flared up along the presumed border areas and refugees are once again streaming towards safer locales. Northern Sudanese forces, backing strongman Omar al-Bashir seized oil-producing areas in Abyei, an area claimed by both the North and South.
About 80,000 people have fled since the north Sudanese armed forces seized oil-producing Abyei almost a week ago, a southern official said, doubling previous estimates of the displaced.

"I saw the attackers ... I saw their guns. They were even bombing from the sky," Bol said beneath the baking sun in Turalei, about 130 km (80 miles) away from Abyei town. "I made it here with four of my children, but two are missing."

Both Sudan's mostly Muslim north, and the south, where most follow Christian and traditional beliefs, claim Abyei -- a battleground in a north-south civil war that ended in 2005.

The north's move last week sparked an international outcry and raised fears a land-grab could return Sudan to full-blown conflict, which could have a devastating impact on the region by sending refugees back across borders and creating a failed state in the south.

The attack came at a highly sensitive time for Sudan, just seven weeks before south Sudan is due to secede as an independent country, taking its oil reserves with it.

Southerners voted for independence in a January referendum agreed under the 2005 peace deal that ended the last civil war.

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