Sudan's border region sees a spark of violence

Long-anticipated violence along Sudan's border region finally sparked up recently. The Enough Project traveled to the site to ask 'Why now?'

Maggie Fick/AP
In this photo taken on Dec. 11, Sudan People's Liberation Army Col. Wieu Pal Padiet Deng, one of the top southern army officers in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, and soldiers stand near a crater they claim was caused by munitions dropped by the northern Sudanese army on a southern army base in the disputed border zone of Kiir Adem, where Southern Sudan meets Darfur.

Much has been made of the idea that if violence erupts in Sudan in the coming months, it will start in the border region between North and South. But when Antonovs and MiG fighter jets dropped two rounds of bombs on the village and an SPLA military installation in Kiir Adem, located in disputed territory between the South’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state and the North’s South Darfur state, the incidents drew relatively little attention. The Associated Press recently filed a report from the bombing site, marking the first visit by a journalist to the area since the attacks occurred last month.

Enough traveled to Kiir Adem and spoke to SPLA officials, government officials, civilians living in the village, NGO workers living in the area, and UN sources, with the aim of compiling details about the incidents firsthand and examining some theories about why the bombardments may be happening now. A new field dispatch presents what Enough found.

Here’s a glimpse:

It has now been three weeks since bombs fell in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, but the mood among the soldiers and remaining civilians in Kiir Adem is anxious. Soldiers are in the process of digging a deep trench running parallel to the river, and they pointed out deep, round pits situated under trees that are intended to provide cover in the event of additional attacks.

While precise details of the bombardments are difficult to confirm through independent sources, it is safe to say that the recent aerial assaults have heightened tensions in a highly militarized area, creating a precarious situation that could quickly escalate. “Everyone here is a soldier,” said an aid worker.

When pressed on the question of whether the SPLA did fire anti-aircraft artillery during the November 25 flyover, the SPLA commander Maj. Gen. Wol did not initially deny the report. “If the Sudan government comes to our place to attack us, if we are protecting our place, we have the right,” he said.

Click here to read the full dispatch.

Laura Heaton blogs for the Enough Project at Enough Said.

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