Border Fights Erupt as Sudan Votes
23 dead in north-south clashes
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 10, 2011 8:23 AM CST
A California woman places her ballot in the box during a referendum vote on whether South Sudan will become independent from Sudan in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011.   (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, David Wallace)
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(Newser) – Violence has broken out in Sudan as the country votes this week on southern independence, with at least 23 dead in fighting near the north-south border, the Guardian reports. Observers are carefully watching the Abyei region, which was promised its own referendum to decide whether it would join the north or south; controversy among leaders prevented the vote from going forward yesterday.

Southern leaders said Khartoum was backing Arab Misseriya militias and renegade fighters in clashes throughout the weekend; the northern army says it’s not involved. A Misseriya leader said southern forces had attacked first. “They attacked us because they don't want the Arabs to go south to water their herds but the cattle need water and they will go. If they continue to stop us going south this fighting will continue.” Elsewhere, however, there was celebration as Sudan voted.