* No comment from Sudan's armed forces
* South says state hit by ground, air strikes
* Presidents due to meet in Ethiopia on Friday
JUBA, Jan 3 South Sudan accused Sudan of
launching air strikes on the southern side of their disputed
border shortly before the leaders of the oil-producing African
countries were due to meet to defuse tensions.
Sudan's armed forces were not immediately available for
comment but have regularly denied southern accusations of
attacks in the past.
The two countries have been at loggerheads over oil,
territory and a string of other disputes since the South split
away from Sudan last year under the terms of a peace deal.
They came close to war in April and have yet to withdraw
their armies from their shared boundary or resume oil exports
from the landlocked South through Sudanese pipelines.
Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his South Sudan
counterpart Salva Kiir were due meet at a summit in Ethiopia on
Friday to discuss how to end hostilities and secure their almost
2,000 km (1,200 mile) long border.
But South Sudan's Information Minister Barnaba Marial
Benjamin said on Thursday Sudan's army had bombed an area
inhabited by civilians in the South's state of Western Bahr El
Ghazal on Wednesday.
"There were attacks yesterday (Wednesday) ... in the area of
Kit Kit ... There was both ground and aerial bombardment," he
told journalists in the South's capital Juba.
"The South Sudan armed forces were able to repulse the
attack but the aerial bombardment has caused a lot of injuries
to the civilians in the area," he said.
Sudan's army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid could not be
reached on his cell phone. Sudan denies launching air strikes
against the South though Reuters reporters witnessed several
attacks when border fighting escalated in April.
South Sudan, which inherited three-quarters of oil
production when it broke away, shut down its entire output of
350,000 barrels a day in January after tensions over pipeline
Bashir and Kiir are due to discuss how to set up the
demilitarized zone they agreed upon in September at a similar
summit in Addis Ababa.
Both presidents said this week they wanted to implement the
September deals but diplomats are sceptical about the chances of
a quick breakthrough.
Both sides have a history of first signing and then not
implementing agreements due to a deep mistrust going back to the
Sudan accuses South Sudan of supporting rebels who operate
in two states on the border with South Sudan. Juba has denied
the charge and accuses Khartoum of backing rebels on its
Both countries need the oil to support their crumbling
economies. But analysts say both governments are also using the
confrontation to shore up domestic support and divert attention
from a lack of development.
(Reporting by Misuk Moses and Carl Odera in Juba; Writing by
Ulf Laessing; Editing by Andrew Heavens)