Fierce clashes in Sudan as talks near



Fierce clashes in Sudan as talks near Juba: Sudanese aircraft and ground troops attacked multiple positions in South Sudan's oil rich border regions but were repulsed after fierce battles, Southern President Salva Kiir charged as he warned of war.

"This morning the (Sudanese) airforce came and bombed... areas in Unity state," Kiir said yesterday, adding his troops had fought back and taken the key northern oil field of Heglig.

"After this intensive bombardment our forces.... were attacked by SAF (Sudan Armed Forces) and militia," he added, speaking at the opening of a ruling party meeting in the southern capital Juba.

"It is a war that has been imposed on us again, but it is they (Khartoum) who are looking for it," said Kiir, adding that he did not want conflict to resume.

However Sudanese army spokesman, Sawarmi Khaled Saad, said only "limited clashes" had occurred between his forces and those of South Sudan along the disputed border between the two countries.

Saad also claimed rebels from Sudan's war-torn western Darfur region, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) had "exploited this clash" to target the armed forces in the Heglig area. They were repulsed, he said.

Border tensions have mounted since South Sudan split from Sudan in July after decades of war to become the world's newest nation, with each side accusing the other of backing proxy rebel forces against it.

Khartoum threatened retaliation in February and early March after accusing the South of backing rebel attacks in disputed border areas, amidst a furious dispute over oil transit fees with Juba.

Air strikes followed on an oilfield in the South's Unity State, an attack Juba blamed on Khartoum's forces.

PTI