S. Sudan says it repulsed attack by Sudan in oil area
Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:46pm GMT
(Adds reports of fighting in Heglig area)
By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM, April 10 (Reuters) - South Sudan said on Tuesday that Sudan had
attacked a disputed oil-producing border region with warplanes and
artillery, in the latest flare-up of violence that has delayed a summit
between the former civil war foes.
The South Sudanese army (SPLA) said the town of Teshwin in the border area
had come under attack late on Monday. It said it repulsed the attack and
pursued Sudanese troops into the disputed Heglig area nearby on Tuesday.
Sudan's armed forces confirmed clashes took place, but accused South Sudan
for attacking the area in an effort to provoke further conflict, and said
fighting was continuing.
South Sudan, which seceded in July, has been locked in a bitter dispute with
Khartoum over oil payments and other issues, and clashes in the ill-defined
border region last month raised concerns they might escalate into full-blown
"They launched a new attack, and occupied southern territory until the SPLA
repulsed them," said Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the South's forces, the
Sudan People's Liberation Army.
"We repulsed and pursued the SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) up to Heglig," he
said, referring to a disputed area where Sudan controls an oil field that
accounts for roughly half of its 115,000 barrel-a-day output.
Al Jazeera television quoted a "government source" as saying South Sudan's
army had taken control of the Heglig oil area, but Aguer said he could not
confirm or deny the report.
"There is a difficulty of communication," Aguer said, saying more details
would be provided on Wednesday. Sudan's armed forces spokesman could not be
reached on his mobile phone for comment.
South Sudan's army briefly occupied a portion of the Heglig area last month
before pulling out.
In a statement carried by the state-linked Sudanese Media Centre, Sudan's
armed forces said on Tuesday they were battling South Sudan's "aggression
... on our southern border in the direction of Heglig".
The two countries are at odds over how much the landlocked South should pay
to export its oil through Sudan.
South Sudan took three quarters of what was the united country's oilput when
it seceded. It shut down production in January after Khartoum started taking
some oil for what it calls unpaid transit fees.
Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was meant to meet his counterpart
Salva Kiir in Juba last week to defuse tensions, but he called off the
summit due to the border violence.
Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said on Tuesday Khartoum wanted the
summit but needed more time to prepare.
"We don't want the summit to fail. If the summit fails nobody else will
solve the problems," he said after meeting his Czech counterpart in Prague.
"We are committed to the summit, but let us delay till we are able to solve
or at least discuss the problems in (a) way that the summit will be
successful," he said.
Among other unresolved issues, the two sides need to mark their border and
end accusations of supporting rebels in the other's territory. (Additional
reporting by Jana Mlcochova in Prague; Editing by Alessandra Rizzo)
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Tue Apr 10 2012 - 17:09:40 EDT