A bombing raid in South Sudan's Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states has killed at least four people and wounded nine, officials said Thursday, accusing Sudan of being behind the deadly attacks.
Joseph Akuei, the executive of Northern Bahr el Ghazal's Aweil West county, which was targeted in the attacks, said 12 bombs were dropped on heavily populated areas in the two northern states. Among the areas that were bombed was the busy Nyinbuoli market, he said.
Four people were killed in the raid and nine others were taken to a local hospital, Akuei said. The entire population of Aweil West county is on high alert for more attacks, which officials fear are imminent, he said.
Akuei accused the Sudan Armed Forces of carrying out the deadly air raid. He called on Juba to intervene and stop what he called the continuous aerial bombardment of the people of South Sudan by Khartoum.
Northern Bahr el Ghazal Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Daniel Akol Diing also pointed the finger of blame at Sudan for the bombing raid. Akol said Sudan has been bombing South Sudan for years "without any reasonable reason." He called the most recent attack an open act of aggression and warned that, if the air raids continue, they could lead to a new war between the two neighbors.
When the south seceeded from Sudan in 2011, after a decades-long civil war, it took with it most of the oil-producing territory of what had previously been a unified country. A year later, the two neighbors clashed anew in the oil-rich border region between South Sudan's Unity state and Southern Kordofan in Sudan after Juba refused to pay what it said were excessively high fees that Khartoum wanted to charge to take South Sudanese oil to seaports for export.
On Thursday, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told a news conference in Juba that the aerial attack began late Wednesday. Nearly 24 hours later, he said, "Antonov planes are still bombarding areas around Western Bahr el Ghazal County of Raja and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states." Ateny said the attack is "presumed to be coming from neighboring Sudan.”
Sudan and South Sudan have accused each other of supporting rebels in the areas targeted in the bombing raids.
According to officials, the latest bombardment is the third time this year that the northern border of South Sudan has come under aerial attack. Sudan has been blamed each time.
Attempts to reach the Sudanese Minister of information for comment were unsuccessful.