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Southern army says repulsed two Sudanese attacks

March 8, 2013 (JUBA)- The South Sudanese army (SPLA) repulsed two separate attacks allegedly carried out by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in its Upper Nile and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states, an army official said Friday.

SPLA spokesman Phillip Aguer (Reuters)

“The SPLA forces have repulsed two attacks by the Sudanese armed forces. They carried out one in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and another in Upper Nile [states]. They were defeated,” Phillip Aguer, the SPLA spokesperson said.

The army, according to Aguer, killed six SAF soldiers in the Upper Nile battle, while several others reportedly sustained injuries after the clash.

“They [SAF] will continue to be defeated as long as they continue to come”, he told Sudan Tribune by phone, adding there were no casualties on the SPLA side.

A civilian died, while three others sustained injuries when the Sudanese army attacked an area in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state on Friday, authorities said.

Kuol Hal Athuai, the Aweil county commissioner largely blamed the incident on SAF together with its allied militia groups and armed Arabs nomads from the north.

“They came again today [Friday]. It was [a] well-planned and coordinated attack. They avoided where they were chased away yesterday [Thursday] by the SPLA forces. They tried another route through Meyiom”, he said Friday.

The commissioner further accused Khartoum of provoking South Sudan into war, despite relentless efforts by both countries to resolve the current post-independence disputes between them.

In a separate interview, Mel Wal Achien, an area legislator in South Sudan Parliament, also confirmed the Northern Bahr el Ghazal attack, and urged government to arm border communities in defense against external aggression.

The two countries, in September last year, signed a Cooperation Agreement, which covered oil and citizenship rights as well as security issues, among others. Since then, implementation of the deal have stalled over Khartoum’s insistence that Juba sever all ties with Sudanese rebel groups - an allegation that is denied by South Sudan.

On Friday, however, Sudan and South signed agreed on immediate and unconditional withdrawal of forces to their side within two weeks, to allow for establishment of a safe demilitarized border zone, the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) said.

The two countries, at a meeting, held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia also committed themselves to the deployment of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) and the activation of all security related mechanisms from 10 March.

As part deal, South Sudan, the AUHIP said in a communiqué, agreed to provide land at Gok Machar for Initial Operational Capability (IOC) within 16 days, while Sudan chose Kadugli, the South Kordofan state capital as the JBVMM and sector headquarters.

The two sides nearly returned to full scale conflict in April last year when the SPLA briefly occupied another disputed territory, Heglig/Panthou, an oil-rich area which South Sudan says should lie in Unity state rather than South Kordofan.