Clashes between Southern Sudan’s army and a rebel militia in Jonglei state killed as many as 40 soldiers and civilians in renewed fighting against the forces of renegade general George Athor, army spokesman Philip Aguer said.
“The wounded may be more than 50,” Aguer said by phone today from Juba, Southern Sudan’s capital. He said he had no details about casualties among Athor’s forces in the clashes on Feb. 27.
Fighting on Feb. 9-10 between the army and Athor’s rebels killed 197 people in Jonglei, according to Southern Sudan’s ruling party. The region’s security forces have deployed troops to prevent the militia from reaching villages in the area, Aguer said.
The government of oil-rich Southern Sudan, which is due to become independent in July, signed a cease-fire agreement with Athor’s forces on Jan. 5. Paris-based Total SA owns 32.5 percent of a 118,000 square-kilometer (46,000 square-mile) concession in Jonglei and Lakes states.
At independence, Southern Sudan will assume control of about three-quarters of Sudan’s current oil production of 490,000 barrels a day, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and India’s Oil & Natural Gas Corp. Sudan had five billion barrels of proven oil reserves as of January 2010, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Athor, a former chief of staff in Southern Sudan’s army, took up arms against the government after losing a state election in April.
Almost 99 percent of Southern Sudanese voters chose independence last month in a referendum that was the centerpiece of a peace agreement ending a two-decade civil war with the north.