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Fresh violence hits south Sudan

Armed man in southern Sudan 23.9.09
More than 2,000 people have died in ethnic clashes in Sudan this year

Deadly clashes have broken out in southern Sudan, as officials begin a month-long registration of voters for the first full election in 24 years.

The semi-autonomous south's information minister Paul Mayom said at least eight people were killed in the violence.

He offered no further detail, but a BBC correspondent says the violence is not believed to be linked to the vote.

As well as full elections, Sudan is also set for a referendum on independence for the south in 2011.

At the weekend, southern Sudanese leader Salva Kiir urged the south to split, saying a vote for unity with northern Sudan would make southerners "second class citizens" in their own land.

Peace deal

The latest violence reportedly broke out between rival ethnic groups in the early hours of Sunday in a village near Malakal town, about 300 miles (480km) north of regional capital Juba.

They were the latest in a series of clashes in southern Sudan - a region where the UN estimates more than 2,000 people have died and 250,000 have been displaced this year.

The BBC's Peter Martell, in Juba, says although the clashes are not believed to be connected to the election process, they do indicate the enormous logistical and security challenges the authorities face

A referendum in the now semi-autonomous oil-rich south was part of the 2005 deal that ended decades of civil war.



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