September 22, 2011 / 12:42 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 2-New fighting in Sudan oil state, protest in east

(Recasts with fighting in South Kordofan, details)

KHARTOUM, Sept 22 (Reuters) - New clashes broke out on Thursday in Sudan’s main oil state South Kordofan, where the army has been fighting for months armed opposition groups for months, both sides said.

In a separate development, police fired teargas to disperse a protest by hundreds of tribesmen in underdeveloped east Sudan, where dissent against Khartoum has been simmering.

Tensions have been building up in several border regions to newly independent South Sudan where the army has been fighting armed groups. Clashes were also reported this week in the Western region of Darfur, scene of another insurgency.

On Thursday, the opposition group SPLM-North in Sudan’s main oil state South Kordofan said its fighters had driven out the army from the Khuwar Dalib area near the border to South Sudan.

A SPLM-North spokesman said 30 government soldiers and two rebels had been killed.

“Our troops are now in Khuwar Dalib,” he said.

But a government official denied rebels had taken the area, saying the army had fought back the attack, the state-linked Sudanese Media Center (SMC) said.

More than 30 rebels had been killed in the fighting, Rashad commissioner Khalid Mukhtar told SMC, adding that two rebels had been taken prisoners.

Fighting broke out in June in South Kordofan which is home to large populations which sided with the south during decades of civil war with Khartoum. In September, violence spread to neighbouring Blue Nile state where also many former southern rebels live.

Khartoum accuses its former foe of supporting the armed opposition in the two border states. Juba denies the charges.

Events in Sudanese border region are difficult to verify as most foreign media cannot travel there and aid agencies say they have no access to fighting areas.

PROTEST IN EAST SUDAN

In Sudan’s east, police fired on Thursday teargas to disperse a protest of hundreds of tribesman who demanded the sacking of the local police chief after two residents were killed the day before, residents said.

Shots could be heard in the town of Gedaref though it was unclear who had fired, a resident said by telephone.

On Wednesday, clashes broke out in Gedaref near the border with Eritrea when police tried to execute an order from authorities to remove cattle and shelters built illegally, the interior ministry said.

Anger has been simmering in the east with tribes complaining their region is underdeveloped despite its importance to the economy. The east is home to the country’s only port and oil export terminal and elements of the gold mining industry.

Dissatisfaction in border regions is linked to development being concentrated on the capital, which has undergone a building boom in recent years. (Writing by Ulf Laessing; Editing by)

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