Jun 2, 9:19 AM EDT

Report: Sudan airdropping weapons and ammunition to South Sudan rebels over the last year



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Report: Sudan airdropping weapons and ammunition to South Sudan rebels over the last year

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JUBA, South Sudan (AP) -- Sudan has been supplying South Sudanese rebels with weapons and ammunition, a London-based research organization said Tuesday in a new report that appears to back South Sudan's persistent allegations of northern interference.

The report by Conflict Armament Research, which investigates weapons trafficking, said 70 percent of the ammunition it examined was recently manufactured in Sudan. It added that most of this ammunition had sustained heavy impact damage consistent with witness accounts of aircraft dropping materials to the rebels between September and October last year.

Some of the ammunition had been made in China, it added.

"These weapons had a number of features identical to those we documented on other weapons that Sudan supplied to other previous groups fighting the Juba government before the current fighting broke out in 2013," Claudio Gramizzi, who led the investigation, told The Associated Press. "I think we can surely confirm the fact that this equipment was airdropped. This comes not only from the reports of (South Sudanese) forces who worked with us but also from the fact that most of the equipment was deformed or bent due to the impact of the landing."

Sudan has been repeatedly accused by its southern neighbor of supporting rebels, charges it routinely denies, maintaining instead that it is South Sudan who is harboring rebels opposed to the government in Khartoum.

A spokesman for rebels in South Sudan, Dickson Gatluak, denied the allegations, saying they were seizing military supplies from government troops defeated in the battlefield.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict, and relations remain tense with outstanding issues on borders and sharing oil revenues.

South Sudan's current conflict started in December 2013 when the government of President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of leading what he called a failed coup bid. A fight among government soldiers in the capital, Juba, soon spread across the country, often along ethnic lines, with some senior military officers joining the rebels.

Peace talks between Kiir and Machar have repeatedly collapsed, with both sides trading accusations for multiple truce violations.

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