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Army mutiny leaves dozens dead in southern Sudan

By Isma'il Kushkush, For CNN
Southern Sudanese soldiers wait for UN envoys at the southern Sudanese capital Juba on October 6, 2010.
Southern Sudanese soldiers wait for UN envoys at the southern Sudanese capital Juba on October 6, 2010.
  • Fighting broke out Thursday in Malakal, near the border dividing northern, southern Sudan
  • Soldiers loyal to militia leader Gabriel Tang refused to turn in their weapons
  • Tang had fought alongside government and loyalist forces in southern Sudan
  • Southern Sudanese voted last month on a referendum for independence

Khartoum, Sudan (CNN) -- A mutiny led by members of the Sudanese Armed Forces' Joint Integrated Units along the north/south border in Sudan has left up to 50 dead, officials said Monday.

Fighting broke on Thursday in the city of Malakal near the airport when south Sudanese soldiers loyal to Gabriel Tang, a southern Sudanese militia leader who fought in a 22-year-old civil war alongside the Khartoum government, refused to turn in their weapons.

An agreement to end the war, which pitted the Arab-Muslim-dominated government of north Sudan against the predominantly Christian and animist south, was signed in 2005.

The Joint Integrated Units are a coordinated military force consisting of the northern Sudanese Armed Forces and the southern Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army. Tang's forces had been merged into the units along with SAF.

"The redeployment of Joint Integrated Units was scheduled to take place starting February 1 in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," said Maj. Gen. Ahmad al-No, spokesperson for the Joint Defense Council, which oversees security and military arrangements between northern and southern Sudan. "Tang fled SAF nearly a month ago and is somewhere around Malakal," al-No said.

Southern Sudanese voted last month in a referendum on whether to remain part of a united Sudan or go independent, with final results to be announced on Monday. Preliminary results show an overwhelming vote in favor of independence. Official independence would be declared in July this year.

During the civil war, a number of southern militias loyal to Khartoum fought against the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), the rebel group that fought Khartoum and currently governs the south.

Noting that it appears Tang is now in opposition to both Sudan's military and the southern separatists, al-No told CNN, "I am concerned that he may have and affect on the security in the region."