, CAIRO, June 3 – Nine people were killed on Wednesday in clashes between south Sudan army forces and insurgents, a southern army official said accusing Khartoum of instigating the violence.
Clashes had occurred on Tuesday in the oil-producing Unity state between the former southern rebel Sudan People\’s Liberation Army and men loyal to renegade commander Galwak Gai.
"Today (Wednesday), we had clashes with these men in the Mayom district of Unity state," southern army spokesman Kuol Deim Kuol told AFP.
"One person was killed and two were wounded on our side, and eight died on their side," Kuol said.
Galwak Gai loyalists are thought to be close to George Athor, a senior southern officer who lost the gubernatorial race in the southern Jonglei state during the country\’s April elections.
The southern army accused the men of acting on behalf of Khartoum in a bid to destablise southern Sudan ahead of a referendum on independence scheduled for January next year, which the Khartoum army denies.
"We have captured a man today (Wednesday) who belongs to the (northern) Sudanese forces," and who was with the insurgents, Kuol said, claiming to prove that Khartoum was behind tensions in the south.
The referendum on independence is a key provision of the a peace deal signed between Khartoum and southern rebels in 2005 to end a two-decade civil war between north and south Sudan which left two million people dead.