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Battles raging on disputed Sudan-South Sudan border after south moves into disputed oil town
JUBA, South Sudan (AP) ' A South Sudan official confirms battles are raging along its border with Sudan after fighting spread.
South Sudan's army ' the SPLA ' says it moved into the disputed region on Tuesday after repelling an attack launched by Sudanese Armed Forces against an SPLA position near the border town of Teshwin.
Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled told the official Radio Omdurman that the South's army attacked the oil town of Heglig twice in the past 24 hours.
Heglig lies along the ill-defined border between the countries and has been the focal point of nearly two weeks of clashes between the armies.
South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Wednesday the fighting is "spreading all over."
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
KHARTOUM, Sudan (AP) ' Sudan said battles were raging Wednesday along its border with South Sudan after southern troops attacked an oil-rich town in the area. The fighting raised the specter of an all-out confrontation between the two countries already facing off over undetermined borders and how to share oil revenues.
Sudanese army spokesman Col. Sawarmy Khaled told the official Radio Omdurman on Wednesday that the South's army attacked the border town of Heglig twice in the past 24 hours.
Heglig is located about 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the east of the disputed region of Abyei, whose fate was left unresolved when South Sudan split last year from Sudan after decades of civil war.
Hostilities between the two sides have grown in recent months, even as the south has said it is trying to avoid a return to war.
"Fierce battles are still going on and the situation has not yet been resolved," said Khaled, promising the Sudanese people their side will be victorious.
The Khartoum government in the north warned in statement Tuesday that it will use "all legitimate means" to respond to the alleged aggression. Sudan also said that if the South resorts to war, it would only reap "failure and destruction."
Sudan has claimed previous, similar attacks on Heglig but South Sudan officials have denied the charges and accuse the northern forces of initiating the attacks.
The latest tension broke out as international mediators were trying to bring the two countries back from the brink of war and work out a negotiated settlement to the border disputes.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki held talks late last week with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudan leader Salva Kiir to try to defuse the tensions. The two leaders were to meet in Juba but al-Bashir called off the summit last week.
The violence has been picking up in the last weeks, and sharing oil revenues is at the heart of the tension.