Fighting in south Sudan kills 30

Aerial view of Malakal
Image caption The fighting began in Malakal on Thursday, and spread throughout Upper Nile state

At least 30 soldiers have been killed in southern Sudan during internal fighting among troops of the national army, state officials said.

The clashes in Melut and Paloich, in Upper Nile state, were sparked when soldiers of one unit refused to redeploy with their weapons to the north.

Southern Sudan is waiting for the final results of its independence referendum.

Provisional results say 99% of voters opted to secede from the north.

The mutiny in Sudan's army first broke out on Thursday in the politically sensitive southern town of Makalal.

Twenty people were killed during heavy fighting, including two children and a Sudanese driver working for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, who were caught in the crossfire.

The fighting then spread to both Melut and the oil-rich settlement of Paloich on Friday and Saturday.

At least 30 people were killed, all of them soldiers, according to state officials.

Malakal is currently patrolled by a combined military unit made up of the north's Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the south's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The mutiny began when southern soldiers in the SAF unit who resisted redeployment to the north began exchanging fire with other members of the same SAF unit.

Southern Sudan is set to become the world's newest nation on 9 July 2011.

Its referendum was part of a deal to end decades of conflicts between north and south, driven by religious and ethnic divides.

Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Satellite image showing geography of Sudan, source: Nasa

Although they were united for many years, the two Sudans were always very different. The great divide is visible even from space, as this Nasa satellite image shows. The northern states are a blanket of desert, broken only by the fertile Nile corridor. South Sudan is covered by green swathes of grassland, swamps and tropical forest.

Map showing Ethnicity of Sudan, source:

Sudan's arid north is mainly home to Arabic-speaking Muslims. But in South Sudan there is no dominant culture. The Dinkas and the Nuers are the largest of more than 200 ethnic groups, each with its own languages and traditional beliefs, alongside Christianity and Islam.

Map showing infant Mortality in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The health inequalities in Sudan are illustrated by infant mortality rates. In South Sudan, one in 10 children die before their first birthday. Whereas in the more developed northern states, such as Gezira and White Nile, half of those children would be expected to survive.

Map showing percentage of households using improved water and sanitation in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

The gulf in water resources between north and south is stark. In Khartoum, River Nile, and Gezira states, two-thirds of people have access to piped drinking water and pit latrines. In the south, boreholes and unprotected wells are the main drinking sources. More than 80% of southerners have no toilet facilities whatsoever.

Map showing percentage of who complete primary school education in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Throughout the two Sudans, access to primary school education is strongly linked to household earnings. In the poorest parts of the south, less than 1% of children finish primary school. Whereas in the wealthier north, up to 50% of children complete primary level education.

Map showing percentage of households with poor food consumption in Sudan, source: Sudan household health survey 2006

Conflict and poverty are the main causes of food insecurity in both countries. In Sudan, many of the residents of war-affected Darfur and the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, depend on food aid. The UN said about 2.8m people in South Sudan would require food aid in 2013. The northern states tend to be wealthier, more urbanised and less reliant on agriculture.

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