South Sudan clashes between army and insurgents: spokesman

South Sudan clashes between army and insurgents: spokesman
# 17 June 2010 03:41 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Thirteen people were killed in clashes between South Sudan army troops and supporters of a renegade leader in the sensitive Jonglei state, an SPLA spokesman said on Wednesday, APA reports quoting AFP.
The formerly rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) said that supporters of renegade senior officer George Athor, who were captured on Sunday, had provided the southern army with his location.
"An SPLA reconnaissance team of 35 men headed on Tuesday to Dier, in the Khor Fulus district of Jonglei State. There were clashes... " Kuom Diem Kuol said.
He said 13 people were killed in Tuesday’s fighting.
"We had three dead and eight wounded, one of them seriously," Kuol said.
"Our soldiers also found the bodies of 10 men," who were fighting in the ranks of Athor, he added.
Athor, a senior southern officer, led a rebellion after losing the gubernatorial race in the southern Jonglei state during the country’s April elections, accusing the south Sudan authorities of corruption.
He was not immediately available for comment.
Kuol also said the SPLA was tracking down Athor and his fighters, adding he expected more clashes on Wednesday.
"Athor is heading further south (in the Jonglei state), and more fighting is to be expected," he said.
"We will pursue him until he surrenders and if he refuses we will kill him," he added.
The southern army accuses Athor and his men of acting on behalf of Khartoum in a bid to destablise southern Sudan ahead of a referendum on independence scheduled for January next year, a charge denied by the central government.
The referendum is a key provision of a peace deal signed between Khartoum and southern rebels in 2005 to end a two-decade civil war between north and south Sudan which left two million people dead.
According to the United Nations the states of Jonglei and Warrap -- where several clashes have taken place in recent months -- are the two states most affected by insecurity this year.