JUBA, Oct 17 – Southern Sudanese gunmen have killed at least three Kenyan soldiers in cross border raids, the information minister of the semi-autonomous south said on Saturday.
But a Kenyan military spokesman flatly denied that any incident had taken place involving his country’s troops.
Clashes broke out on Thursday, but reports are only just emerging from the remote border region between southern Sudan and north-west Kenya, Southern Sudanese Information Minister Paul Mayom told AFP.
"The border area between southern Sudan and the Lokichoggio area of Kenya has witnessed some skirmishes, largely among the Toposa people of Sudan and the local Turkana people of Kenya," he said.
"It is not clear how the Kenyan army became involved in these skirmishes but the reports show that three personnel were killed," Mayom added.
Kenyan miiltary spokesman Bogita Ongeri denied the losses.
"We don’t have a base in that named area. We have not had any incident involving our soldiers and we have touched base even with those in other areas and there is no incident reported," he told AFP.
"I don’t know where these people are getting such information. On our part there is no such reports."
Raids to steal cattle and resources are frequent in the region, where automatic weapons are common. The south’s minister of regional cooperation has flown to Nairobi to resolve the situation, while extra troops from the southern Sudanese army have been sent to the area to boost security, Mayom said.
"This is something we condemn as the government of Southern Sudan," the information minister added.
"This is an area of traditional conflict between the communities, and we are urging them not to express their grievances through violence.
A spokesman for the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the army of South Sudan, said security is being increased in the area.
"This was a matter of local Toposa raiding, and was nothing to do with the SPLA," said Major General Kuol Diem Kuol. "Security is being improved in the area to ensure there is peace."