Evidence of an Airstrike in South Sudan

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The Satellite Sentinel Project has secured independent confirmation of the aerial bombardment of a Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) military installation in Jau town in South Sudan’s Unity State (Figure 1). The South Sudanese army’s continued occupation of Jau, which is located within the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) straddling the two countries’ contested border, is a violation of the two countries’ recent recommitment to abide by security arrangements. Jau has been the subject of territorial dispute and the site of previous clashes between the two countries’ armed forces in December 2011 and February 2012. Notwithstanding South Sudan’s current non-compliance with its agreement to demilitarize its border areas, the Sudanese government’s aerial bombardment of Jau, now confirmed by the Satellite Sentinel Project, is an illegal use of force under international law.
 
By targeting a historic flash point for violence at a sensitive moment, the attack has heightened bilateral tensions between the two Sudans.
 
Digital Globe panchromatic imagery of the fortified village of Jau from September 8, 2013 shows a crater, approximately 7 meters in diameter, consistent with aerial bombardment (Figure 2). According to DigitalGlobe Analytics, at least two tent structures were destroyed by the bomb blast. At least one more bomb crater was noted north of the village (Figure 3). Neither crater is visible in July 12, 2013 imagery of the same area. Sources on the ground corroborate reports that a Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) jet dropped a bomb in Jau on September 7, 2013. Major Gen. James Koang Chuol, Commander of the Fourth division of the SPLA reported that a soldier and his wife died, and six people were injured, as a result of the bombardment.
 
The South Sudanese armed forces maintain three separately secured military installations in the Jau region, all within 4 kilometers of the center line and all within the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ). Continuing to maintain armed forces at these facilities is a clear violation of the two countries’ bilateral agreement to maintain a 20 kilometer wide demilitarized zone along their border. Each observed installation has a line of tents surrounded by a perimeter of foxholes, which DigitalGlobe Analytics believe protects family structures near the center of the installations.