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Robert Cusack

Egypt denies bombing South Sudan rebel positions

The Egyptian airforce and South Sudanese government officially denied the rebels' claims [AFP]

Date of publication: 5 February, 2017

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Egypt and South Sudan officially denied that Egyptian warplanes have bombed the rebel-held state of Upper Nile, after SPLA-IO rebels accused Cairo of dropping nine bombs on their positions.

South Sudanese rebels claimed on Friday that Egyptian warplanes dropped nine bombs in the rebel-controlled state of Upper Nile - a statement the Egyptian air force has officially denied.

A spokesperson for the Sudanese People's Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) refused to give any more details on the bombing and warned of a possible escalation in the ongoing conflict.

"The Egyptian air force [dropped] more than nine bombs… on the gallant SPLA-IO positions in and around Kaka," said William Gatjiath Deng.

"The escalation of the Egyptian participation in the ongoing war in South Sudan [is a] clear indication ... that the Juba regime is provoking the region and tilting South Sudan for a regional war."

The South Sudanese government said the report was "false" on Saturday, and denied receiving any kind of military support from Egypt.

"There are no Sudanese rebels in the republic of South Sudan and it is not true the Egyptian air force bombed places in South Sudan. It is propaganda", said Colonel Santo Dominic.

"Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries."

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Abu Zeid, also denied the alleged airstrikes, saying: "Egypt does not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries."

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir met with Egypt's President al-Sisi on 10 January, to discuss "strengthening ties" between the two nations.

A spokesperson for the rebels claimed the meeting was related to Egypt's plans to sabotage Ethiopia's dam project.

"There is a dirty deal going between Kiir and Sisi. The issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is one of the main deals being finalised in Cairo," the source said.

Sisi is not the only North African leader to have become involved in the on-going civil war in recent months.

King Mohammad VI of Morocco agreed on Friday to help finance a project to move the South Sudanese capital north, despite a distinct possibility the money could be misappropriated.

Fighting between the government and rebel fighters in Upper Nile state broke out again in March 2016, following a brief period of peace and stability.

Government forces have reportedly razed villages to the ground, used helicopter gunships against civilians and used violence against the local Shilluk tribe members.

"There is already a steady process of ethnic cleansing underway in several areas of South Sudan using starvation, gang rape and the burning of villages," said Yasmin Sooka, chairperson of a UN commission investigating genocide in the country.

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