Continued from page 1

However, U.S. and Sudanese officials, from the north as well as the south, downplayed fears of a bigger conflict.

The senior U.S. official noted that northern forces easily pushed out southern troops from Abyei and that the south lacks the ability to respond to northern aggression.

“I dont think that the south is prepared for a full-scale war. That said, I don’t think the north is, either,” he said, describing the northern Sudan Armed Forces as a “broken institution.”

Enoch Awejok, acting head of the Southern Sudan mission in Washington, agreed that there was “no opportunity for war.”

Northern and Southern Sudanese officials blame each other for the violence.

“Neither side is blameless,” said the U.S. official. “Our first order of business is calming them down and getting them to talk to each other.”