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Sudan, South Sudan troops 'clash on border'

By AFP

JUBA (AFP) - Sudanese troops and allied militia forces clashed with South Sudanese troops along their contested border Tuesday, the latest fighting in weeks of violence, the South's army said.

"Sudanese forces, militias and mercenaries attacked our positions in Hofra in the oil region of Unity state," Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer said.

Both sides accuse the other of funding rebel militias in their territory, as part of a proxy war until outstanding issues over contested territory, oil revenues and borders are resolved.

Southern troops "repulsed the attackers" and captured three trucks, Aguer said, adding that troops were preparing for an assault on frontline positions in the Jau and Pariang areas the South believes Sudan is planning.

It was not possible to independently verify the reports.

Sudanese bomber planes have launched waves of air strikes on Southern military positions, as well as on towns and villages, in the most serious unrest since South Sudan's independence and which has raised fears of a wider war.

After almost a month of fighting, the African Union last week ordered the two sides cease hostilities within 48 hours, but the violence has continued.

It also ordered Sudan to stop its campaign on aerial bombardment, a charge Khartoum has repeatedly denied.

Last month Sudan said the South's continued support for rebels inside Sudan undermines the north's stability.

Khartoum accuses Juba of aiding rebels from its western Darfur region, including the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), as well as fighters in the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan state.

Juba accuses Khartoum of exploiting existing ethnic rivalries in the South by arming multiple rebel groups as proxy forces to attack Southern troops.

South Sudan seceded peacefully from Sudan in July after 50 years of intermittent civil war. Some two million people died in the last round, between 1983 and 2005.