(Adds reports of fighting in Heglig area)
By Ulf Laessing and Alexander Dziadosz
KHARTOUM, April 10 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 war.
"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
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
(Additional reporting by Jana Mlcochova in Prague; Editing by