The northern Sudanese army on Sunday took control of the flashpoint border town Abyei after three days of violent clashes between northern and southern forces in the surrounding area.
A spokesperson for South Sudan's army said that the move was an act of war, raising fears that conflict between the north and south could be reignited as South Sudan prepares for independence on July 9.
The Arab north and African south of Africa's largest nation fought a brutal civil war for over 20 years, in which more than two million died. The 2005 peace deal that ended the conflict agreed that the south would vote on whether it would stay unified with the north, or separate to form a new country.
In January of this year, the south voted overwhelmingly to secede and become the world's newest nation.
But a simultaneous referendum planned for the oil-rich border region of Abyei, in which its population would choose whether to join the north or the south, has been delayed by wrangles for months.
According to aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, "the entire population of Abyei town" has fled the latest fighting there. Northern forces conducted two days of aerial bombardments in the region, after alleging that southern forces attacked a northern convoy escorted by UN peacekeepers.
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