Officials: Sudan releases four detained foreigners

May 20, 2012 16:07
1 minute read.

KHARTOUM - Sudan has released four foreigners detained near the border with South Sudan following weeks of heavy clashes between the two African neighbors, officials said on Sunday.

Sudan said it had arrested the four - a Briton, a Norwegian, a South African and a South Sudanese - last month, accusing them of illegally entering an oil-producing border area to spy for South Sudan.

South Sudanese officials denied those allegations, saying the men were working with the United Nations and aid groups clearing mines, and had got lost in the remote territory.

The arrest in April came after weeks of fighting along the 1,800 km contested border that brought the two countries closer to an all-out war than at any time since South Sudan seceded.

The southern nation, which became independent in July under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war, had seized the disputed Heglig oil area earlier in April, but then withdrew under heavy international pressure.

The neighbors are still at loggerheads over a raft of contentious issues including the exact position of the border, the status of citizens in one another's territory and how much the landlocked South should pay to export its oil through Sudan.

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