Sudan and South Sudan are engaging in mutual recriminations, accusing each other of carrying out attacks on the eve of the resumption of African Union-mediated talks in Addis Ababa.
The Sudanese government in Khartoum says South Sudan's troops have crossed over into southern Kordofan, where they carried out raids on villages, killing an unspecified number of civilians.
Khartoum spokesman Hassan Ali Osman alleges that the south wants to consolidate its position ahead of the Addis Ababa talks. He says this attack will not stop the talks, but told DW "we cannot proceed with the rest of the agenda unless we solve the security issue."
Meanwhile General James Hoth, South Sudan's Army Chief of Staff, also speaking in a DW interview, accused Khartoum of carrying out sporadic aerial attacks.
"They are still bombing us in Western Bahr El Ghazal and in Upper Nile," he said.
Western Bahr El Ghazal lies to the southwest of the disputed oil rich region of Abyei. Upper Nile is located to the southeast of Heglig, which was occupied by South Sudan troops for ten days last month before they pulled out in the wake of pressure from the UN Security Council.
"build up a process of negotiating outstanding issues"
AU mediator Thabo Mbeki is to lead the talks between Sudan and South Sudan
Like Khartoum, South Sudan accuses the other side on wanting to derail the talks. South Sudanese Army spokesman Philip Agwer Panyang says it is a habit of Khartoum whenever there is international mediation activity. "They attack, so that we spoil the environment for diplomacy," he insists.
The African Union's mediator at the talks, the former South African president Thabo Mbeki says the two sides should meet as a matter of urgency so that "we are able to build up the process of negotiating outstanding issues."
He was referring to border demarcation, the sharing of oil revenues and a referendum to decide whether Abyei belongs to the north or the south.
The news agency AFP says that Sudan's army will begin pulling out of Abyei from Tuesday, quoting army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad, who was making a statement to reporters.
Author: James Shimanyula/mc
Editor: Asumpta Lattus