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Southern Sudan's Army Reports Clashes With Rebel Militia in Jonglei State
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Mar 2, 2011 - 6:55:41 AM

Clashes between Southern Sudanís 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.

ďThe wounded may be more than 50,Ē Aguer said by phone today from Juba, Southern Sudanís capital. He said he had no details about casualties among Athorís forces in the clashes on Feb. 27.

Fighting on Feb. 9-10 between the army and Athorís rebels killed 197 people in Jonglei, according to Southern Sudanís ruling party. The regionís 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 Athorís 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 Sudanís current oil production of 490,000 barrels a day, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysiaís Petroliam Nasional Bhd. and Indiaís 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 Sudanís 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.

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