Sudan vows swift response to south’s oilfield grab

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Sudan’s government promised to deal “within hours” with South Sudan’s occupation of a vital border oilfield and the southern government said it would not leave the area until the threat of attacks by the northern army had gone.

The stand-off follows clashes along the ill-defined border that have brought the neighbors closer to full-blown conflict than any time since the south won independence last year.

Sudan said on Wednesday it would mobilize its army against South Sudan and halted talks with the southern government over oil payments and other disputed issues after South Sudan occupied the Heglig oilfield on Tuesday, Reuters reports.

The south said it took control of the Heglig area, which it claims as its own, to put an end to attacks from the north.
“There must be a mechanism so they don’t launch another attack,” South Sudan’s Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin cited President Salva Kiir as saying.

He told Reuters in the southern capital Juba that Sudan’s air force had dropped six bombs on Unity State on the southern side of the border on Thursday, killing one soldier.

The north said it was mobilizing its army to retake the Heglig field, which accounts for about half of Sudan’s 115,000 barrel-a-day output.

Ahmed Haroun, governor of Sudan’s South Kordofan province, said crude production had stopped in Heglig.
“Our army is dealing with the situation. We hope we can finish that operation in hours,” he told reporters in the town of Talodi in South Kordofan.