Juba says north conscripting fighters

JUBA, South Sudan, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- Officials in South Sudan claim the country's nationals in the north are being forced to fight a guerrilla war against the south, a charge Khartoum denies.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in July as part of a peace agreement reached in 2005. Disputes over oil, ethnic rivalries and border conflict threaten to undermine the peace, however.


Barnaba Marial Benjamin, South Sudan's minister of information, told the BBC that militias in Khartoum were forcibly recruiting South Sudanese men living there.

"The attitude of recruiting South Sudanese university students into the military by the Khartoum regime is an irresponsible exercise," he said.

Sudanese officials told the British broadcaster the allegations were "nonsense."

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said it didn't have independent confirmation of the forcible conscription but noted there were around 700,000 South Sudanese living in Sudan.

The U.N. refugee agency had warned that at least 1,000 people were fleeing violence in Sudan to South Sudan's Blue Nile state.

Sudanese refugees told aid officials it took a month to walk to safety.

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