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Sudan vows quick response to South's oil field occupation

The government in Khartoum says they will not stand by after an oil field was occupied by South Sudanese forces.

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Sudan's government vowed on Thursday to deal swiftly with South Sudan's occupation of an economically vital oil field near the border but the south said it would not pull out until the threat of attacks by the northern army had gone.

The stand-off follows clashes along the ill-defined border that have brought the former civil war foes closer to returning to full-blown conflict than at any time since South Sudan declared independence last year.

South Sudan seized the Heglig oil field on Tuesday, drawing international condemnation including rare criticism from the United States. Sudan has called the move a "blatant assault" on its sovereignty and demanded an immediate withdrawal.

Heglig, which the south claims as its own, is vital to the north's economy because the field there accounts for about half of the country's remaining 115,000 barrel-a-day oil output.

Ahmed Haroun, governor of Sudan's South Kordofan border state, said crude production had stopped in Heglig, but the army was "dealing with the situation".

"We hope we can finish that operation in hours ," he told reporters in the town of Talodi in South Kordofan, a state on the border with South Sudan where Khartoum is also battling insurgents who it alleges are aligned with Juba.

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