UN Council to consider next steps on Sudan, S.Sudan

Wed Apr 25, 2012 6:21am GMT

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council demanded on Tuesday that Sudan immediately stop airstrikes on South Sudan and will consider in the coming days what further steps to take to stop clashes between the east African neighbors spiraling into war.

Senior U.N. officials told the 15-nation body that aerial bombing of South Sudan's Unity State on Monday night had killed 16 civilians, injured several dozen and caused significant damage to infrastructure.

The Sudanese army has denied carrying out air strikes.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said the latest hostilities amounted to a declaration of a war by his northern neighbor.

Clashes along the ill-defined border between the former civil-war foes has led to a standoff over the Heglig oil field after it was seized earlier this month by troops from South Sudan, which declared independence last year.

"Council members welcomed the withdrawal from Heglig by the SPLA (South Sudan's army), demanded an immediate halt to aerial bombardments by the Sudanese forces and urged an immediate ceasefire and return to the negotiating table," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said, characterizing the Security Council consultations on Tuesday.

U.N. under-secretary-general for peacekeeping Herve Ladsous, U.N. envoy to Sudan Haile Menkerios and Hilde Johnson, head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan, known as UNMISS, all briefed the Security Council.

Rice, who is the Security Council president for April, said the council also "acknowledged the constructive contribution of the African Union Peace and Security Council and its communiqué adopted earlier today which will ... inform our consultations on further action."   Continued...

South Sudan's army, or the SPLA, soldiers load a Soviet-made T-72 tank into a truck in Halop, Unity state, April 24, 2012.   REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
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