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South Sudan Shot Down Sudanese Warplane, Minister Says

South Sudan said it shot down a Sudanese MiG jet fighter flying over its Unity state, a sign of heightening tensions between the former civil war foes.

“This is proof of what we were talking about for the past month: that the Republic of Sudan was invading our airspace and bombing our villages and towns,” Minister of Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin said today by phone from Juba, the capital. Sudan army spokesman al-Sawarami Khaled denied one of his military’s planes was shot down.

The incident occured a week after troops from the countries fought for two days along their disputed border. The clashes prompted expressions of concern from the United Nations, the U.S. and the African Union.

“This has nothing to do with reality,” Khaled said by phone from Khartoum, Sudan’s capital. “South Sudan’s army didn’t shoot down any Sudanese warplanes. We don’t have any air military operations in the Unity state or any other area falling on South Sudan territory.”

Sudan’s government is fighting insurgent forces in its border states of Blue Nile and oil-rich Southern Kordofan. South Sudan seceded from the north in July, assuming control of about three-quarters of the formerly unified nation’s daily production of 490,000 barrels a day. The north and south fought a two-decade civil war that ended in 2005.

Negotiators from the two countries met today in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in the latest attempt to reach agreement on issues such as border demarcation and how much South Sudan should pay Sudan to ships its crude to an export terminal on the Red Sea.

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