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Rebel group claims Sudan shelling

A key oil-rich region in Sudan, close to the border with South Sudan, has been hit with deadly mortar fire. A hostile South Sudanese insurgent group, which has a presence nearby, has claimed responsibility.

Shelling broke out Monday in Kadugli, the capital of Sudan's oil-rich restive South Kordofan state, according to witnesses.

State media said the attack killed five people and injured a further 23, but did not say whether the casualities were civilian or military.

"To our knowledge there were five mortar shells that landed in and around the town" of Kadugli, Damian Rance of the United Nation's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the AFP news agency.

UN staff in Kadugli were relocated "as a precautionary measure" to a base used by UN peacekeeping mission UNIFSA, between Kadugli and a nearby airport.

Arnu Lodi, spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a group of insurgents who were part of the South's army during Sudan's civil war, confirmed that SPLM-N troops were behind the attack. He did not comment on the casualities, but said that his troops were attacking military targets.

Rebel fighting has plagued South Kordofan since Sudan and South Sudan divided in July 2011 in accordance with a peace deal, which was supposed to mark the end of a decades-long civil war.

Sudan and South Sudan signed a border agreement last month to defuse tensions but talks have failed to bring reconciliation between Khartoum and the SPLM-N. Sudan has accused South Sudan's government of supporting the SPLM-N. Juba rejects the charge.

sej,dr/pfd (Reuters, AFP)