South Sudan said the Sudanese air force had bombed the main oil fields in Unity state near the border with Sudan, as violence between the two escalated. "This morning as you called I heard the Antonov hovering over Bentiu town because it has just dropped some bombs in the main Unity oil fields," Unity state information minister Gideon Gatpan told Reuters. "It has now gone back, possibly for refuelling, and may come back," he said by phone.
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad could not be reached on his mobile phone but Asian oil group GNPOC - the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium led by China's CNPC - operating in Unity state confirmed the bombing. "The war planes are hovering everywhere ... One bomb actually just missed Unity base camp but anywhere else so far there is no information," said Vice President Chom Juaj. "They bombed the oil field but so far we are still waiting for the report from the field telling us if they are damaged or not," he said.
The attack comes a day after a rare direct military confrontation in the poorly marked border region, prompting Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to suspend a visit next week to South Sudan, according to Sudanese state media. The countries have been at loggerheads over a series of sensitive issues since South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July, taking with it most of the country's known oil reserves.
The neighbours have yet to agree on the position of their 1,800-km (1,120-mile) border or how much landlocked South Sudan should pay to export oil - the lifeblood of both economies - through Sudan. Bashir had initially been planning to fly to the southern capital Juba on April 3 to meet his southern counterpart Salva Kiir to try and resolve their disputes.