Fighting rages on Sudan-South Sudan border

Fierce fighting raged Wednesday as warplanes bombed contested regions on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, the second day of violence in the latest round of bloody clashes.

South Sudanese troops held positions in the disputed Heglig oil field, seized on Tuesday from Khartoum's troops, said Mac Paul, deputy director of South Sudan's military intelligence.

"SPLA [the South Sudan armed forces] are holding their positions in Heglig and the bombardment continues. … There was bombing all night long," Paul told AFP in the capital of South Sudan's frontline Unity state.

Several airstrikes by Sudanese Antonov airplanes and fighter jets were reported at least 50 km deep inside South Sudan, although officials had no immediate reports of casualties.

On Tuesday, an AFP correspondent on the South Sudanese front line heard heavy artillery shelling and multiple airstrikes lasting for about an hour, with one bomb dropped by aircraft landing less than a kilometer away.

Large Southern Sudanese troops movements were seen close to the frontier, with convoys heading up to the frontline near Heglig, an area Juba claims but which makes up a key part of Khartoum's oil production.

The clashes follow border fighting that erupted last month between the two neighbors, the most serious unrest since Juba's independence last July, and which prompted international fears of a return to all-out war.

Khartoum has vowed to react with "all means" against a three-pronged attack it said South Sudanese forces had launched against Sudan's South Kordofan state, including the Heglig oil field.

A statement on Khartoum's official SUNA news agency warned of "destruction" in South Sudan.

Khartoum also claimed Southern forces were backed by rebel groups. It did not specify which rebels but the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has been battling government troops in South Kordofan since June.

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