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Cablegate: Clashes Continue Along North-South Border, Court Case

VZCZCXRO1485
PP RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKH #0653 1201558
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 291558Z APR 08 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0685
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEHGG/UN SECURITY COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA

UNCLAS KHARTOUM 000653

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR AF S/E WILLIAMSON, AF/SPG
NSC FOR HUDSON AND PITTMAN
DEPT PLS PASS USAID FOR AFR/SUDAN
ADDIS ABABA ALSO FOR USAU

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KPKO UN SU
SUBJECT: CLASHES CONTINUE ALONG NORTH-SOUTH BORDER, COURT CASE
ESCALATES TO VIOLENT CONFRONTATION

1. (SBU) Summary. Violent clashes continue to flare along Sudan's
north-south boundary, centering on the Abyei region. On April 25, a
skirmish between SPLA troops and a pro-NCP tribal force left a
reported 20 casualties. On April 28, a murder in the town of
Kharsana escalated into a battle that left an unknown number of dead
and the town blockaded. End summary.

2. (SBU) Violent clashes along Sudan's north-south border continue,
often escalating from apparently minor disputes into major battles.
On April 25, SPLA troops battled a pro-NCP force near Payang,
resulting in from 20-30 casualties, mostly among the Northern force,
according to the SPLA. The Northern force was following, and the
SPLA believed planned to attack, a convoy of IDPs traveling to the
South to participate in the census. (Note: The Northern force has
been described as "Misseriya," but this term seems often to be used
generically in such incidents near Abyei. This particular group was
traveling in military vehicles, at least some wore uniforms, and may
have been SAF-supplied Misseriya PDF or other militia or even SAF
troops. End note.)

3. (SBU) On April 28, a non-political court dispute in the town of
Kharsana (NE of Abyei and North of Higlig in disputed territory)
escalated dramatically following the murder of an ethnic Misseriya
by an ethnic Nuer. Fighting between the two groups resulted in an
unknown number of casualties and the town of Kharsana, including the
SPLA garrison, being blockaded by Misseriya tribesman and access to
water cut off. (Note: The SPLA garrison includes ethnic Nuba,
Nuer, and Misseriya soldiers. It is not know how Misseriya SPLA
troops reacted. End note.) SPLA sources allege that the SAF have
been arming local Misseriya with heavier weapons and there also are
unconfirmed rumors of direct SAF participation.

4. (SBU) Prompt response on the part of local authorities appears
to have calmed the situation somewhat and contained it, at least for
now. Southern Kordofan Governor Adam, Unity state Governor Taban,
and GNU Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs Ahmed Harun (who
is also an ICC indicted suspect) traveled to Higlig to defuse the
crisis. Governor Taban reportedly agreed to withdraw SPLA forces to
the south for two weeks. The Misseriya agreed to end the blockade
and allow access to drinking water. The two governors also agreed
to negotiate compensation for the dead.

5. (U) Kharsana lies north of the disputed border between Abyei and
South Kordofan and is claimed by both. On April 22, the first day
of the national census, enumerators from South Kordofan were denied
entrance to Kharsana by residents who apparently feared they would
be counted as part of the "Northern" population and said that they
should be counted by enumerators from Abyei. (Note: The
enumeration boundaries laid out in census marking do not necessarily
correspond to political boundaries, which has been a source of
confusion and dispute in a number of areas. End note.)

6. (SBU) Comment. The April 28 incident reflects how a seemingly
minor dispute can escalate dangerously in the current atmosphere of
political tension over the north-south border. Both the NCP and
SPLM have been manipulating the situation for their own advantage
and at the expense of the local populations. If this pattern
continues, some future incident could easily spiral beyond the
ability of either side to contain. End comment.

FERNANDEZ

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