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Family abducted in Sudan-Uganda border raid

By Tom Walsh, For CNN
  • 11 Ugandans are abducted by South Sudan forces, a Ugandan minister says
  • South Sudan says it cannot confirm an abduction took place
  • The two governments are working to settle an earlier arrest of eight Ugandans

(CNN) -- South Sudanese forces raided a village in a disputed area on the Ugandan border and abducted a family of 11, Uganda's minister of information said Thursday.

The attack in the Lefori region of Moyo County was carried out about 8 a.m. Wednesday by the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the official, Kabakumba Masiko, told reporters. She said the incident is part of a continuing border dispute between the two governments, with both claiming ownership of the region.

South Sudan government spokesman Chris Onyango, however, said he could not confirm that any such event had taken place. He also suggested that militia operating in South Sudan often wear SPLA uniforms in actions intended to disrupt a January 9 referendum that could let the autonomous South Sudan split from the central Sudanese government.

The alleged raid followed the arrest by South Sudanese police of eight Ugandans reported to have been encroaching on Sudanese land and illegally and felling trees.

Masiko said the two governments are working together to settle that incident, and three of the eight Ugandans had been released.

The seeds of the border dispute were sown in the 1960s, when South Sudanese settled in the region, where Ugandans have traditionally worked cutting timber. In 2004 South Sudanese were accused by the Ugandan government of stealing timber, and since then there have been sporadic cross-boarder skirmishes.

Last year, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni visited the area with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. They agreed to verify and demarcate the border, but that was not done because South Sudan and the central Sudanese government failed to agree on who should carry out the verification.

The Uganda-Sudan border was first marked on April 29, 1914, by the British colonial government of the time.