Reuters Africa

KILO 18 REFUGEE TRANSIT CAMP, South Sudan (Reuters) – Refugees say Sudan’s armed forces are attacking villages in the Blue Nile border state with warplanes, helicopters and troops, killing civilians and torching settlements, in a counter-insurgency campaign that rights activists say could include war crimes.

Sudanese army and civilian officials, who strongly deny the allegations, in turn accuse the rebels of using civilians as human shields and as pawns to win international sympathy.

In over a dozen interviews, refugees who have arrived in South Sudan over the last three weeks told Reuters that Sudan’s armed forces had burned their homes in the Ingessana mountains region, scattering people into caves and forests.

They are victims of a conflict that erupted last year, around the time Sudan and South Sudan split apart under a 2005 peace deal, and which shattered six years of relative peace and cast the 1,800 kilometre (1,125 mile) frontier into turmoil.

The fighting between government forces and rebels, whom Khartoum accuses the South of backing, has complicated already-fraught talks between the two countries to resolve a raft of issues related to partition.

It has also alarmed aid agencies who fear a humanitarian disaster in Blue Nile and in South Kordofan, another border state, as food stocks dwindle.  Read more…