Army’s bid to retake key oilfield ‘quelled’

SOUTH SUDAN: The world’s newest country, South Sudan, said yesterday it had repulsed an attempt by the Sudanese army to retake the disputed oil-producing border area of Heglig, which the southern army seized last week.

The fighting between Sudan and South Sudan has brought the two closer to a resumption of full-blown conflict, nine months after the south seceded under a peace deal that ended decades of civil war.

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South Sudan seized the Heglig oilfield near the border last Tuesday, prompting widespread condemnation. The African Union denounced the occupation as illegal and urged the two sides to avert a “disastrous” war.

The Sudanese army said late on Friday that its forces were advancing on Heglig town, an area vital to Sudan’s economy because it has a field accounting for about half of its 115,000-barrel- a-day oil output. The fighting has stopped crude production there.