A train carrying southern Sudanese migrants was attacked in the country’s conflict-stricken Southern Kordofan border state killing at least one person, the United Nations said.
UN spokeswoman Hua Jiang said the most recent information indicated armed Misseriya tribesman were behind the attack. A senior Misseriya official denied the tribe had a role in the attack, and blamed it on rebels from neighbouring Darfur.
South Sudan will declare independence on July 9, but fighting in the vaguely-defined border region has complicated the split and raised fears of a broader conflict, Reuters reports.
Many southerners are trying to return home ahead of the secession, which sometimes involves crossing through volatile areas.
“A train transport of southern Sudanese returnees going from Kosti to Wau was attacked by Misseriya militia this morning,” Jiang said, adding at least one person was killed and four were wounded.
Mohamed Omer al-Ansary, a Misseriya leader, confirmed an attack occurred, but said the tribe was not involved. He blamed the attack on rebels from Darfur, which neighbours Southern Kordofan and is the site of a separate insurgency.
“The Misseriya did not attack this train and we do not fight civilians,” he said.
The Misseriya are a nomadic, Arabic-speaking tribe associated with the north.
Southerners voted to secede in a January referendum, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war. The conflict over religion, ethnicity, ideology and oil claimed some 2 million lives.
Clashes broke out between the northern army and southern-aligned troops in Southern Kordofan — the north’s main oil state — on June 5. About two weeks earlier, Khartoum moved tanks and troops into the disputed Abyei region.
More than 180,000 people have fled the fighting in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, the United Nations says.