April 25, 2008 (ST)
More than 20 people have been killed by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in clashes with the Misseriya tribe in the border between South Kordofan and Unity States, SPLA and pro-northern Sudan ruling party media reported.
Southern Sudan army Maj. Gen. James Hoth told Reuters that SPLA killed 29 tribesmen. Two members of the Misseriya tribe were killed in a morning battle on Thursday and 27 tribesmen died in a second attack on the southern army’s position near the vital Heglig oil fields.
However, the Sudanese Media Centre (SMC) said 22 Misseriya and 2 Sudan Armed Forces soldiers were killed.
Hoth further said no southern soldiers were killed. "We sustained six wounded with none dead," told Reuters.
He said that before fighting began, Misseriya representatives had asked the southern forces to move out of the area, which they consider part of northern Sudan.
Clashes broke out after disagreements about the work of the census takers who arrived to the area from South Kordofan and Unity states to conduct population counting, the SMC reported.
A series of similar clashes between armed Misseriya groups and the southern army further west along the north-south border killed dozens earlier this year, clouding north-south relations.
The timing of the new attack is especially sensitive because of the first census since 1993, which is seen as a key step towards next year’s elections. Misseriya representatives could not be reached for comment.
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