South Sudan death toll tops 1,800 in 2011: U.N.

JUBA, Sudan Fri Jul 1, 2011 7:23am EDT

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JUBA, Sudan (Reuters) - More than 1,800 people have died this year in violence across southern Sudan, the United Nations said Friday, ahead of the region's independence next week.

Some 1,836 people have been killed by tribal or rebel violence, including 273 in the first two weeks of June, according to the U.N. figures, amounting to more than 300 violent incidents spread across nine of the south's 10 states.

The under-developed south, roughly the size of France, has been plagued by violence since southerners voted overwhelmingly in January to separate from the north and form their own nation on July 9.

The independence vote was the climax of a 2005 peace deal that ended a civil war which killed about 2 million people. North and south Sudan have fought for all but a few years since 1955 over ethnicity, religion, ideology and oil.

More than 260,000 people are now displaced in the south, the U.N. figures showed, which includes about 100,000 who fled the disputed Abyei region.

Analysts say that even if the fragile peace with the north holds, the south risks becoming a failed state if it cannot bring its humanitarian situation and rampant internal insecurity under control.

At least seven rebel militia are at war with the government, the U.N. said.

(Editing by Robert Woodward)

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