Fighting Ceases Along Sudan-South Sudan Border

Posted March 29th, 2012 at 2:55 am (UTC-5)
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Fighting has apparently ended along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, where air strikes and ground attacks took place this week.

By Thursday morning, troops were reported to have pulled back from both sides of the border. But smoldering remains of tanks and trucks remain on the ground in Heglig, evidence of the battles that erupted.

The fighting comes just days before Sudan and South Sudan's presidents were scheduled to meet to discuss border and oil revenue disputes. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has said he is suspending the planned April Third summit with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir because of the violence. Now it is unclear if or when the meeting will take place.

Both sides blame the other for sparking the direct military confrontation on Monday. South Sudan accused Sudan of launching a second day of air strikes on oil-rich territory along their disputed border, which Sudan denies.

The United States, the African Union and the United Nations have all expressed serious concern about the fighting, and called on the parties to address their disputes through peaceful negotiations.

Since South Sudan's independence in July, the two neighbors have not been able to agree on the demarcation of their 1,800 kilometer border or how much South Sudan should pay to export oil through Sudan.

The south took over most Sudanese oil production, but is refusing to pay what it considers excessive transit fees to use northern pipelines. The landlocked south needs the pipelines to send the oil to international markets.

The dispute prompted South Sudan to shut down all oil production, a move analysts say is likely to hurt both countries.

The sides are also in disagreement about the status of southerners living in the north and regularly accuse each other of supporting the other's rebel groups.