April 15, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) are at few kilometers from Heglig town and the area’s oilfields, Khaled Al-Sawarmi Khartoum’s military spokesperson said on Saturday evening 24 hours after beginning the the north’s bid to retake the border area from the South Sudanese army.
- Sudanese army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad (Reuters)
South Sudan Vice President, Riek Machar, earlier on Saturday said the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Heglig repulsed an attack on Friday evening. Also, the military spokesperson, Philip Aguer, asserted that the two armies are fighting in Kersana, 41 kilometers north of the disputed area.
"We are now in Heglig area at few kilometers from Heglig town and oilfield," Al-Sawarmi said in a press conference held on Saturday evening. He further said the clashes are still taking place between the two parties.
Speaking on Sudanese TV later on Saturday he underscored that “we are not controlling the town and oilfields 100% as it was wrongly reported by some media because we are moving in accordance with military plans that should lead to win the battle with minimal losses".
In his press briefing, Sawarmi stated that Sudanese army aim to destroy the SPLA war machine before crushing its troops and Sudanese rebels operating in South Kordofan, which Khartoum claim are backed by Juba.
Military sources said SAF are facing fierce resistance from the SPLA on the ground. It pointed out that the mines planted by the South Sudanese troops around the oil fields have force the Sudanese troops to proceed slowly.
Sudanese minister of information Abdallah Ali Massar stated on Saturday evening that the SPLA and Darfur’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) mobilised over 10,000 soldiers to attack Heglig on 10 April.
While Sawarmi disclosed in a talk show on Sudanese TV that SAF had only one brigade when they were attacked.
Philip Aguer, SPLA spokesperson dismissed SAF’s claimed advance in the area, saying that Sudanese troops are still at least 30 kilometers from Heglig.
Aguer further said that Heglig as well as its surrounding areas were bombarded by Sudanese warplanes. Eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune that Mig 29 jet fighters dropped two bombs at noon targeting the main bridge in Bentiu town, the capital of Unity State.
Peter Gatkuoth medical director of Bentiu Hospital told Sudan Tribune that the bombing of Rubkotna Bridge killed at least five people and wounding five others.
Reports from the border areas in South Kordofan underline the growing tension and mobilisation from the two sides in Abyei and Defra, expressing fears of the extension of the fighting to other areas.
Misseriah tribal leader and opposition figure Abdel Rasoul al-Nur stated today that the Ethiopian peacekeepers deployed in Abyei prevented South Sudanese soldiers from entering the area.
Speaking about Abyei, Sawarmi warned that the SPLA "are not aware about where they are putting their feet".
Al Jazeera English | Interview: Sudan and South Sudan conflict | 14 April 2012
Al Jazeera talks to Colonel Alsawarmi Khalid Saad, the Sudan military spokesman, about the latest on the conflict in the town of Heglig.