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S. Sudan's army completes pullout from occupied oil field

(Xinhua)

14:26, April 23, 2012

KHARTOUM, April 23 (Xinhua) -- South Sudan's army said on Sunday it had wrapped up its withdrawal from occupied Heglieg oil field after suffering huge casualties in a ten-day battle with the Sudanese army.

Khartoum has disclosed that 938 soldiers of Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA)-- South Sudan's army-- and Darfur rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were killed during the battle to restore the Heglieg oil area.

"The Sudanese army has managed to kill 938 soldiers and dispersed seven battalions of the SPLA and JEM; and arrested many of their commanders during the battles of restoration of Heglieg," Maj. General Kamal Abdul-Marouf, Sudanese army commander who led the Heglieg battle, was quoted as saying by Al-Sudani daily.

"The Sudanese armed forces have led fierce hand-to-hand battles with the enemy inside the town to avoid harming oil facilities with fire arms," he added, noting that the Sudanese army has confiscated most of the weapons used by the SPLA during the battles.

The Sudanese government on Friday announced the oil-rich area of Heiglieg was "liberated" after being seized by the SPLA.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said that the Sudanese army has "forcibly" restored the Heglieg area, insisting that South Sudan forces have fled and not voluntarily withdrawn as the South Sudan government has claimed.

In a related development, Al Ray Al Am daily reported that Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has summoned representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Khartoum to consult on measures to bury the bodies of SPLA soldiers killed during the battles in Heglieg.

The ministry said it did that to show commitment to international and humanitarian laws, namely, the four Geneva agreements and the annex and protocol related to international conflicts, adding that the two sides have agreed to follow the procedures stipulated in those agreements.

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Oil Ministry has started to make necessary arrangements to resume oil pumping from Higlieg oil fields after taking the area back.

Sudanese State Minister for Oil Ishaq Bashir said oil pumping in Heglieg would resume very soon, adding that the operation of the oil fields and oil facilities would be undertaken in coordination with Sudanese Armed Forces, the paper reported.

The minister further expected the Heglieg oil fields to enter the production circle as soon as possible after the completion of required technical revisions at oil facilities and after the armed forces end land mines examinations.


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