November 18, 2014
(JUBA) – The South Sudanese army (SPLA) says it has observed a huge military build-up at the border with neighbouring Sudan with which it has been unable to settle a number of post-secession differences.
“There has been unusual military activities in the border areas for the past days. Our forces in Sirmalaka have reported [the] movement of dozens of tanks and armoured trucks, artillery and other heavy weaponry around border areas in the past weeks,” Major General Manyok Barac, SPLA’s fifth division commander in Western Bahr el Ghazal, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
Although the general did not specify which group the forces belonged to, he said there was little doubt Sudan was behind the military build-up.
“There is no any other country we are sharing the border with apart from Sudan in the area where these unusual activities have been reported over the past weeks. What we do not know is the intention of these activities,” said Barac.
The comments come barely a week after officials from the border states of Upper Nile and Western Bahr el Ghazal and SPLA spokesperson Colonel Philip Aguer accused Sudan of bombing border areas inside South Sudanese territory.
Thirty-five people were killed and 18 wounded in Korshamam in Raja county.
Seven others were also reportedly injured in separate attacks on Maban county’s Kortumak and Yapta areas.
The incidents occurred in two different regions of Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile, fuelling fears of further violence in the border regions between the two countries.
The South Sudanese government has repeatedly accused Sudan of providing support to various armed opposition groups, including the faction allied to former vice-president Riek Machar.
Sudan says it is not convinced Juba has severed its ties with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) and Darfur rebels, both of which are accused by pro-Machar rebels of fighting in support of government-allied forces.
However, it denies providing military support to South Sudanese opposition groups.
Fearing an imminent escalation in hostilities, South Sudanese president Salva Kiir flew to Khartoum earlier this month to assure his Sudanese counterpart of the commitment of his government to respecting the 2012 cooperation agreement it signed with Sudan.