South Sudan troops withdraw from oil area after clashes

March 28, 2012 19:27
1 minute read.

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 neighbors threatened to escalate a simmering conflict.

Both the United States and United Nations called on the countries to halt the violence - the worst seen since South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, taking most of the country's known crude reserves with it.

South Sudan accused Sudan of bombing major oil fields and other areas on its side of the border on Monday and Tuesday. Sudan denied the air raids but said southern troops started the fighting by attacking Heglig, one of the major oilfields left on the Sudanese side of the border since the split.

A Reuters reporter taken on a Sudanese government tour of the Heglig oil field near the border saw no signs of fighting on Wednesday, but there was a heavy security presence. Soldiers and machine gun-mounted Toyota pickup trucks patrolled the area.

"The area of Heglig and the surroundings are totally secure," Heglig area commander Bashir Meki told reporters. "We are ready (to defend our country)," he said, as dozens of soldiers shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest).

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