Sudan-back militias attacking South daily, take 130 orphans hostage

Tuesday, March 15, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

CAIRO Fighting continues to rage in southern Sudan amid efforts to prepare for secesssion.

The army of southern Sudan has reported nearly daily attacks by militias said to receive support from the regime of Sudanese President Omar Bashir. The military said hundreds of people have been killed in the fighting, which included a mutiny by a former commander of the Sudanese People's Liberation Army.

On March 14, SPLA said at least 42 people were killed in the latest battles in southern Sudan's Upper Nile state. The army said rebel militias took hostage 130 children in an orphanage.

"The [militia] attackers were trying to hide there," SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said. "The orphans and staff were later released unharmed."

Aguer and other SPLA officials have blamed the Khartoum regime for the fighting. They said Bashir was hoping to foment a civil war in southern Sudan that would block plans to secede in July.

In January, nearly 99 percent of voters supported a referendum on secession of southern Sudan. Bashir has pledged to honor the vote.

Aguer said 40 militiamen were killed in the latest fighting. He said SPLA has been driving out militia forces from several towns in Upper Nile.

Former SPLA commander George Athor has claimed responsibility for many of the militia attacks. Athor, who lost in elections for governor in southern Sudan in April 2010, said his militia had been ordered to seize weapons from SPLA caches.

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