Sudanese warplanes crossed into a major South Sudanese border town Monday morning, carrying out deadly airstrikes that killed one and wounded several others. Observers fear the two nations may be on the brink of a new full-scale conflict.
The airstrikes, which hit a marketplace between the neighboring towns of Bentiu and Rubkona, killed a young boy and wounded 10 others, a hospital official in the Southern Sudanese town of Bentinu told The Associated Press.
One witness, journalist Alan Boswell, told CNN that two fighter jets fired four missiles at the South Sudan border towns.
"I saw one boy who (was) about, who was completely burned. There are other casualties," Boswell said.
Monday's attack came following the announcement that South Sudan would remove its troops from the disputed oil town of Heglig. South Sudanese troops invaded the town about a month ago due to disputes with the north, but announced that it would be removing its troops in an effort to avoid full-scale conflict and at the urging of the United Nations Security Council.
"The bombing amounts to a declaration of war," Maj. Gen. Mac Paul, the Deputy Director of Military Intelligence for South Sudan told AP.
Sudan has claimed that's troops ousted the Southern Sudanese and President Omar al-Bashir has vowed to teach its southern neighbor a lesson.
Sudan had been fighting with South Sudan for decades but full-scale warfare ended under a 2005 peace accord brokered by then-U.S. President George W. Bush. Under the 2005 deal, a 2011 referendum vote was held in South Sudan and over 90 percent of voters voted to separate from the north and establish the Republic of South Sudan.
In the months since South Sudan has celebrated its July 2011 independence, the two countries have been drawing ever closer to another full-scale conflict regarding disputes over the newly established border and oil revenues.
"They are trying to drag us into a war, and that's what the Security Council didn't want. They must tell them to stop these attacks," Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan's minister of information said on state-run television.
On Sunday, Sudanese forces attacked a border town six miles into South Sudan and on Saturday evening, a Catholic church in Sudan's capital of Khartoum, attended by primarily Christian Southern Sudanese worshippers, was mobbed by a group of Muslim radicals.
Experts have expressed concerns over Christian southerners in Sudan if tensions between the two nations escalate.
"If this conflict escalates into full-scale war. it will cause unimaginable suffering for countless innocent civilians," said Franklin Graham, president of global humanitarian organization Samaritan's Purse, following a recent visit to the country.
Samaritan's Purse has had an active presence in South Sudan since 1993 providing water, food, shelter and other necessities to those in need.