U.N. Officials Accuse Sudan of a Bombing
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Senior United Nations officials sided with newly independent South Sudan on Friday in accusing Sudan of bombing a southern civilian encampment the day before. One United Nations official called for an investigation, suggesting that a war crime might have been committed.
Sudan insisted that there had been no bombing and said that its accusers had fabricated a fictional attack, prompting the American ambassador to the United Nations to lash out and call her Sudanese counterpart a liar.
The shrill back and forth reflects deeper worries that South Sudan, which broke away from Sudan six months ago as part of a peace accord that ended one of Africa's most protracted civil wars, is sliding into a new armed conflict with its northern neighbor, which has accused South Sudan of arming Sudanese rebels.
On Thursday, aid workers in South Sudan reported that an aircraft from Sudan had bombed the South Sudanese area of Yida near the border, hitting a camp of 21,000 displaced civilians.
United Nations officials there corroborated the attack in a report on Friday to the Security Council. Hervé Ladsous, the under secretary general for peacekeeping, said the United Nations mission in South Sudan had confirmed that Sudan dropped at least two bombs near the camp.
The head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said two bombs fell inside the camp and three outside; the casualty toll was unclear.
In addition, Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, said in Geneva that the evidence suggested that "an international crime or serious human rights violation" had occurred and she called for an inquiry, Reuters reported.
Their assertions were denied by Sudan's United Nations envoy, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, who told reporters after the Security Council had adjourned that it should not act on "unfounded information." Asked about the witness accounts, Mr. Osman said, "These are fabrications."
Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador, said in separate remarks that the bombing was irrefutable. "The fact that the representative of the government of Sudan came to the Council and blatantly lied is quite disturbing to the United States and many other members of the Security Council," she said.
First Published November 12, 2011 12:01 am