Shooting broke out in the capital of Sudan’s South Kordofan state the latest eruption of violence in the tense border region as the country’s south prepares to secede.
South Sudan is scheduled to become a separate country in less than five weeks, but the split has been complicated by unresolved issues like the exact position of the common border and oil revenue-sharing.
Tensions have been high since Khartoum occupied the disputed Abyei region on May 21, setting off an international outcry and raising fears of further violence, Reuters reports.
South Kordofan state, which lies in northern territory, is seen as another potential flashpoint because it is home to southern-allied armed groups that fought against the north during the country’s last civil war.
A spokesman for the United Nations mission in Sudan said shooting had been confirmed in Kadugli, South Kordofan’s capital, but no other details were available.
“There is shooting. This is confirmed,” mission spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said.
A resident in Kadugli also confirmed to Reuters there was fighting in the town but did not give details.
Northern military spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khaled said Khartoum’s army was not involved in the shooting, which he said came from southern-allied forces firing randomly from nearby mountains.
“No clashes occurred between the Sudanese army and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army today,” he said, referring to the southern military.
Southern officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports.
Southerners voted to secede in a January referendum, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war.