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South Sudan "on the brink of war" with Sudan

South Sudan's foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial said that days of fighting along the border could lead to war.

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A Southern Sudanese man salutes the statue of late South Sudan rebel leader and first Vice-President John Garang prior to a ceremony celebrating the independence of South Sudan from Sudan in July. South Sudan and Sudan are in conflict over their borders. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

South Sudan is on the brink of war following the invasion of the town of Jau by Sudanese forces, the country's foreign minister told BBC News

The offensive by Sudan on South Sudan began on Saturday, according to Col Philip Aguer, the spokesman for the South People's Liberation Army. He said that Sudan used long-range artillery and tanks in their invasion of Jau. Southern troops have since recaptured the town, but Sudanese soldiers were still in South Sudan.

"This is a war situation and if they don't withdraw, the SPLA will force them out," Col Aguer told the AFP news agency. 

Nhial Deng Nhial urged the international community to intervene before a full-scale conflict broke out, BBC News reported.

"Although there have been frequent aerial bombardments of different places in the Republic of South Sudan, we think that Khartoum has raised this offensive to an entirely new level by committing ground forces to cross into the Republic of South Sudan," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa program. "We are still very much committed to the principle of dialogue with Khartoum - we are still hopeful that we can pull back from the brink of outright war."

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July, after years of civil war that left over 1.5 million dead. The border between the north and the south has still not been defined, BBC News reported. South Sudan claims Jau is part of its Unity state, while Sudan puts the region in its South Kordofan state, according to the Sudan Tribune. Both countries accuse the other of harboring rebel forces along the border, which Mr Deng Nhial has denied. 

“The situation in Sudan and South Sudan is at a difficult juncture, with a very low trust between the countries, heightened rhetoric, and mutual accusations,” said United Nations Peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous at a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) briefing, the Sudan Tribune reported. 

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/111209/south-sudan-the-brink-war-sudan