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'22 killed in south Sudan land dispute'

world Updated: Mar 07, 2011 16:57 IST
Khartoum
South Sudan

Fighting over a disputed stretch of land in South Sudan's troubled Jonglei state has left 22 people dead, including a soldier, and 43 wounded, the state's governor said on Saturday.

"Fighting broke out on Thursday over a piece of land in the Nyak Payam area (in the Twic East region of western Jonglei state). The SPLA and the police intervened and it has now stopped," Kuol Manyang Kuol said over the telephone.

"22 people died and 43 people were wounded. They have been transported to hospital in Bor and Juba by the UN," he said, adding that a soldier from the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army was among those killed.

Kuol described the clashes, between armed members of the Ayual and Dachuek peoples, two branches of south Sudan's predominant Dinka tribe, as "a misunderstanding between the two communities."

"It was not a tribal clash," he insisted, adding that he hoped the courts would bring those responsible to justice.

The regional commissioner Diing Akok Diing said on Saturday that the deadly fighting was over the proposed site of a new church, but was unable to give casualty figures.

Analysts have warned that maintaining security in the fledgling southern nation, which is due to win international recognition in July, and disarming its civilian population, will be major challenges for the Juba government.

Earlier this week, southern officials said around 40 soldiers were killed in northern Jonglei state in renewed fighting between the SPLA and the forces of renegade general George Athor.

The clashes, which began on Monday in the Fangak region, were the latest in a series of bloody battles between the militia and army in past weeks.