JUBA, Sudan, May 10 (Reuters) - More than 80 people have been killed in clashes between rebels, civilians and police in southern Sudan in the latest violence in the oil-producing region that will become independent in July, the army said on Tuesday.
Southerners overwhelmingly voted to secede in a January referendum, promised in a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war with the north fought over religion, ethnicity, ideology and oil.
Analysts warn that the underdeveloped south, roughly the size of France, could become a failed state and destabilise the whole region if security deteriorates further.
A rebel militia raided a cattle camp in Warrap state, leading to the death of 82 people including 34 civilians on Sunday, soutern army (SPLA) spokesman Philip Aguer told Reuters.
“We (SPLA) forced this militia out of Unity state on the 6th and 7th (of May). They crossed into Warrap state and attacked a cattle camp and killed 34 civilians and wounded 45. Later, civilians and police chased the militia into an ambush and killed 48 of them,” Aguer said.
The casualty figures could not be independently confirmed but a spokesman for a rebel militia said fighting had been going on in the region. He said he could give no casualty figure because a different rebel group had been involved.
Clashes betwen the army and rebels or tribes have broken out in all but one of the south’s ten states this year, killing more than 1,000 people, according to the United Nations and official figures.
Southern leaders have accused Khartoum of backing the rebels to disrupt the region and keep control of its oil.
Khartoum has dismissed the accusation, as have militia leaders who say they are rebelling against what they say is an autocratic government in the south.
Editing by Ulf Laessing, Khartoum newsroom, firstname.lastname@example.org