Sudan: Fighting erupts in southern Sudan, 30 soldiers killed

By Nangayi Guyson – Juba- “More the  30 soldiers have been killed in southern Sudan after two days of clashes among former pro-Khartoum fighters in the Upper Nile state against giving up their heavy weapons” , state officials said.

The fighting around Malakal airport, close to the border with the north, began on Thursday when loyalists of Gabriel Tang, who commanded a pro-Khartoum force during the 1983 to 2005 civil war, objected to surrendering their heavy weaponry.

The mutiny in Sudan’s army first broke out on Thursday in the politically sensitive southern town of Makalal.

Twenty people were killed during heavy fighting, including two children and a Sudanese driver working for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, who were caught in the crossfire.

The fighting then spread to both Melut and the oil-rich settlement of Paloich on Friday and Saturday.

Malakal is currently patrolled by a combined military unit made up of the north’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

The northern troops are shifting their equipment back home as the south gears up for its expected international recognition as an independent state in July following its overwhelming vote of 99%  for secession in last month’s landmark referendum.

Southern Sudan is set to become the world’s newest nation on 9 July 2011.