March 1, 2012 / 11:34 AM / in 6 years

S. Sudan says Khartoum bombed two oil wells

JUBA, March 1 (Reuters) - South Sudan accused Khartoum on Thursday of bombing two oil wells in the north of the new nation and moving troops and weaponry close to an army base near the poorly defined border.

A Sudanese official denied the allegations. Relations between Sudan and the South have deteriorated in recent months as talks about border disputes and oil transportation fees have floundered, causing the South to shut down oil production.

Each side has repeatedly blamed the other for flare-ups around the border region.

South Sudan’s government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin said two MiG aircraft dropped six bombs on oil fields in Unity State on Wednesday, violating a non-aggression pact signed by the two countries last month.

“We will launch a very strong protest to the (United Nations) Security Council and we condemn this warlike attitude on the part of Sudan,” Benjamin told reporters.

He said there were no casualties in the attack roughly 74 km (46 miles) from the border that destroyed two well-heads and flow lines as well as two cars.

The Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a Chinese/ Malaysian/Indian-owned consortium, runs the oil fields that South Sudan said were hit.

In Khartoum, Sudan’s military spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid said Sudanese forces had not been involved in any bombing inside the south.

South Sudan has accused the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) of bombing several areas of its territory since it gained independence in July last year, including two refugee camps.

“They would like to drag the republic of South Sudan into war, a war we are not interested in,” Benjamin said.

South Sudan voted overwhelmingly to secede last year, the culmination of a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war.

At partition, three-quarters of Sudan’s known oil reserves fell in South Sudan’s territory but the two did not agree on how much the Juba should pay to use oil export and processing facilities in Sudan.

South Sudan’s army spokesman Philip Aguer said Sudanese forces were assembling near a base in an area close to the disputed border in Unity State.

“Yesterday evening SAF have been moving forces, heavy machine guns and vehicles to within 500 metres of an (army) base in Peshwien, very close to the border which we are waiting to be demarcated,” he said. Sawarmi dismissed the report.

Sudan regularly accuses Juba of offering support to the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella group for militias seeking to unseat the government in Khartoum. (Additional reporting by Khaled Abdel Aziz in Khartoum; Editing by Edmund Blair and Robert Woodward)

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