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Tensions Boiling Along Sudan-South Sudan Border

SPLA-N fighters practice with a mortar as others watch near Jebel Kwo village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan May 2, 2012.
SPLA-N fighters practice with a mortar as others watch near Jebel Kwo village in the rebel-held territory of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, Sudan May 2, 2012.

Renewed accusations and continued distrust are threatening to sabotage a promised cease-fire involving the world's newest country.

South Sudan, which gained independence last July, and Sudan traded allegations Friday of continued violations and attacks along their volatile border.

Southern army spokesman Philip Aguer repeated allegations made Thursday that Sudan resumed its aerial bombardments, attacking the village of Lalop, where southern forces are stationed.  At the same time, Sudanese spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told the French news agency, "the other side still has a presence inside our land."

Hopes that a full-out war between the two countries could be avoided rose earlier this week after the African Union said Sudan had joined South Sudan, by accepting "in principle" an AU roadmap to resolve hostilities.  Still, simmering tensions led the United Nations Security Council to deliver an ultimatum, stop the fighting by Friday or face sanctions.

International powers have also been trying to pressure both sides to end hostilities.  During her visit to China Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Beijing for its efforts.

Clinton said, "together we need to keep sending a strong message to the government of Sudan that it must immediately and unconditionally halt all cross-border attacks, particularly its provocative aerial bombardments.''

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights announced Friday she will travel to South Sudan later this month (May 8 - May 12) and will meet with President Salva Kiir.

The African Union roadmap gives the two countries 90 days to settle their issues or face binding international arbitration.  AU officials have said they are making arrangements for the "urgent resumption" of negotiations of all pending issues.  Prior AU-mediated talks between the two Sudans have produced little progress.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan last July, six years after the end of a 21-year Sudanese civil war.

Even as tensions are simmering to a boil along the border, South Sudan is facing another growing challenge, malnutrition.

South Sudan Nutrition Direction Rachel Awadia says the country's children are suffering the most.

"So many children become malnourished because they don't have enough food varieties to eat," noted Awadia.

One of those children is Susan, 4, now in critical condition the pediatric ward of the Torit Civil Hospital with her mother, Rose Iguri, by her side.

"I realized that there was something wrong with her when other children were all walking but she still couldn't," said Iguri.

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