Bodies, destroyed tanks at scene of Sudan battle: AFP

Posted: March 29, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël in Junub Sudan
Tags: ,

By Abdelmoneim Abu Edris Ali | AFP

Dead bodies and destroyed tanks lay in Sudan’s southern oil centre of Heglig on Wednesday after government forces and South Sudanese troops clashed along the border, sparking international alarm.

Smoke still rose from a destroyed residence of oil workers, just metres (yards) from an unscathed oil well.

An AFP reporter observed the war debris while accompanying Sudan’s Oil Minister Awad Ahmad al-Jaz who spent about six hours in the area with Ahmad Harun, governor of surrounding South Kordofan state.

The correspondent saw three bodies and two tanks but the mangled tanks carried no visible identifying markings.

Some of the dead bore the insignia of rebels from the Darfur-based Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).

Sudan’s military has alleged JEM “exploited” the north-south clash to target Sudanese troops in the Heglig area before being repulsed.

JEM on Wednesday repeated its earlier denial of involvement in the battle.

The movement’s spokesman, Gibril Adam Bilal, said the dead might be government troops dressed in rebel garb.

“We as JEM, we confirm we are not part of that battle in Heglig at all,” which was entirely a clash between South Sudan and Sudanese troops, Bilal said by telephone.

Two destroyed Land Cruisers at the battle scene also carried JEM insignia.

Both north and south claim parts of Heglig, an oil-rich territory that witnessed heavy fighting during Sudan’s devastating 22-year civil war.

The town is surrounded by numerous oil wells, on flat land scattered with acacia trees, but none of the oil infrastructure appeared damaged.

“Now there are no soldiers from our enemy inside Sudanese territory and the area is completely secure,” said Abdelmoneim Saad, operations commander for the Sudanese Armed Forces.

Heglig town is about 15 kilometres (nine miles) from the disputed frontier’s closest point.

South Sudan said its forces had taken the area on Monday when they pushed back Khartoum’s troops which had moved over the frontier into Unity state following air strikes.

A large contingent of Misseriya nomads from the paramilitary Popular Defence Force (PDF), a key battle force for the Sudanese military, patrolled the Heglig area on foot and by motorcycles, with rifles but without uniforms.

“Our border was won in 1956 and we will fight for this border even without the government’s permission, to protect our land,” said Ismail Hamdien, a Misseriya leader who travelled to the battle scene to assess the situation.

Police, intelligence agents and members of the regular armed forces — some riding cannon-mounted vehicles — added to a heavy security presence.

Sudan and South Sudan both said ground clashes had ended by Wednesday.

Oil operations in Heglig are run by the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), a consortium led by China’s state oil giant CNPC.

“There is serious concern among us,” one Chinese oil worker said.

“How can we work in this situation? We want the government to protect us because we are working for the people of Sudan.”

Jaz said the fighting had not affected oil production.

But a Sudanese oil engineer said normal daily output of 60,000 barrels in the area — about half the country’s total — had fallen to 40,000 because some wells were affected by the fighting. He gave no further details.

Although both countries claim parts of the Heglig area, an analyst said it “is firmly in north Sudan”.

Analysts said there are elements in Khartoum, as well as the South, opposed to recent moves towards warmer relations between the two countries and suggested the latest flare-up was an effort to sabotage a rapprochement.

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July last year after an overwhelming vote for secession that followed Africa’s longest war.

Earlier in March, after months of failed negotiations, an escalating row over oil fees and mutual accusations of backing rebels on each other’s territory, South Sudan’s chief negotiator Pagan Amum said relations had improved.

Amum and a South Sudanese delegation visited Khartoum last week to invite their “brother,” President Omar al-Bashir, to an April 3 summit in the southern capital Juba, and said he had accepted.

But after Monday’s fighting Khartoum said it had suspended the meeting.

South Sudan
: Situation On South Sudan-Sudan Border Cools As Parties Express
Tensions stemming from military clashes in the border area between Sudan and South Sudanappear to be de-escalating as both parties have stated their willingness to meet in the coming days in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to prevent a new eruption of violence 
Fighting Ceases Along Sudan-South Sudan Border
Voice of America (blog)
Fighting has apparently ended along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, where air strikes and ground attacks took place this week. By Thursday morning, troops were reported to have pulled back from both sides of the border.

Aid agencies warn of huge crisis at South Sudan camps
Aid agencies say that unless supplies reach the Jamam refugee camp in South Sudan in the next few weeks, thousands of lives could be put at risk. Currently there isn’t enough water for the 35000 people who have fled gunfights and aerial bombings in 

Sudan and South Sudan may slide back to war, world powers warn
A burnt military vehicle sits where South Sudanese troops and Sudan government forces clashed along the border near Hegleg, the central area for Sudan’s oil production. Sudan and South Sudanmay be sliding back toward war, the United States and other 

South Sudan says it pulls back troops from border
The Oshkosh Northwestern
By Michael Onyiego, AP JUBA, South Sudan (WTW) — South Sudan said Wednesday it has pulled out its troops from a contested area along the border with Sudan shortly after clashes between the two countries’ armies sparked fears of a return to war.

South Sudan troops withdraw from oil area after clashes
The Daily Star
By Ulf Laessing HEGLIG OIL FIELD, Sudan: South Sudan’s troops have pulled out of Sudan’s oil-producing Heglig area, both sides said on Wednesday, easing tensions after two days of clashes between the neighbours threatened to escalate a simmering

Sudan and South Sudan say no to war, but violence continues
Christian Science Monitor
Core issues from South Sudan’s independence from Sudan remain unresolved, like sharing oil revenue. But the current rhythm of fight, talk, fight, talk is unsustainable, says guest blogger. By Alex Thurston, Guest blogger / March 29, 2012 South Sudanese 

South Sudan may reconsider Glencore oil deal
Reuters Africa
By Hereward Holland and Alexander Dziadosz (Reuters) – South Sudan may reconsider a scrapped contract with Glencore for crude marketing and other services if the oil trading major agrees to revise terms seen as unfavourable to the African producer, 

South Sudan Prepares For Blackout as Fuel Supplies Dwindle
Jakarta Globe
South Sudan’s capital is braced for a complete blackout in the coming days due to fuel shortages, local media reported on Thursday. “The remaining fuel quantity has reached its lowest point ever,” David Deng, the minister of electricity, 

Nets for Relief as Refugees Flee
By Sue Valentine, 29 March 2012 Against the backdrop of renewed hostilities between South Sudan and its northern neighbour, a fresh initiative aims to provide some relief from an ever-present threat that is killing refugees even as they flee the 

Sudan seeks good relations with the South
Capital FM Kenya
BAGHDAD, Mar 29 – Sudan seeks good relations with newly independent South Sudan, President Omar al-Bashir told an Arab summit on Thursday, after border clashes this week sparked international alarm. “We are committed to go forward in resolving these 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s