Conflict & Justice

Sudan President Bashir visits contested oil town of Heglig


Sudanese soldiers pose next to seized mortar rounds from the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) of South Sudan in the oil region of Heglig on April 23, 2012. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said during his visit to Heglig that there will be no more talks with South Sudan after weeks of border fighting in contested regions and tension between the two states.


Ashraf Shazly

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has arrived in the contested southern oil field town of Heglig, promising there will be no more talks with South Sudan over border demarcation and disputed oil revenues.

South Sudan’s army announced on Friday that it was pulling its troops out of Heglig to avoid all-out war with its East African neighbor, having occupied the field since April 9.

Sudan said its forces had driven the South out of the area.

“No negotiation with those people,” Bashir said of the South Sudanese regime upon his arrival in Heglig, according to the Agence France Presse, adding: “Our talks with them were guns and bullets.”

On Monday witnesses accused Sudan of carrying out airstrikes near the South Sudanese border town of Bentiu, killing three people, Reuters reports.

The alleged attack comes a day after South Sudan claimed the North had bombed and launched ground strikes against three sets of targets inside its border, killing four soldiers.

Read more from GlobalPost on Sudan

Khartoum has denied carrying out aerial attacks on its southern neighbor, but there are mounting concerns that all-out war between Sudan and South Sudan – which secured its independence from the North last July – is imminent.

After South Sudanese forces occupied Heglig earlier this month, claiming it was being used as launch pad for Sudanese attacks inside its territories, Bashir vowed to “liberate” the people of South Sudan from their “insect” rulers, saying:

“Our main target from today is to liberate South Sudan’s citizens from the SPLM (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement), and this is our responsibility before our brothers in South Sudan.”

The president accused South Sudan’s government of trying to destroy its northern neighbour, the Agence France Presse reports, adding: “Our main target from today is to eliminate this insect completely.”

More from GlobalPost: Sudan and South Sudan fighting ends, for now

On Saturday night a Muslim mob several hundred strong set fire to a Catholic church frequented by South Sudanese in the Al-Jiraif district of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, screaming insults at the mainly Christian and animist southerners as they did so.

In a statement released Sunday, the African Union called on both countries to end "senseless fighting."

"The commission urges the two parties to immediately and unconditionally resume negotiations ... to reach agreements on all outstanding issues," AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping said, the Associated Press reports

More from GlobalPost: Muslim mob torches Catholic church in capital Khartoum