The Southern Sudanese Army reported at least 56 dead in clashes with
militias in the Upper Nile State so far this month. The Army said the militias
were being financed and directed by Khartoum ahead of plans for the
secession of the south.
"They have received new weapons," Sudanese People's Liberation Army
spokesman Philip Aguer said. "We suspect they all acted in coordination with
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In a briefing on March 7, Aguer reported battles between the Army and
militia on March 6. He said 47 militia fighters from the Shiluk tribe and
nine soldiers were killed.
In July, the south is scheduled to formally secede from Sudan.
President Omar Bashir has pledged not to block the secession, but officials
in the south asserted that his regime was directing an escalation,
particularly in the oil-rich Abyei region.
"I think things are going to continue escalating," Aguer said.