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Forces out of Abyei, South Sudan tells UN

13 may 2012, 14:23
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. ©AFP
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. ©AFP
South Sudan has withdrawn hundreds of police from the territory of Abyei that it disputes with Sudan ahead of a UN Security Council ultimatum, AFP reports citing a UN spokesman.

But the United Nations is still "verifying" the South's claim that it has withdrawn all forces from the small territory on the uncharted border between the two rivals, said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.

Abyei is one of a series of disputes between South Sudan and Sudan that has brought the two sides close to all-out war. Khartoum troops seized most of the territory a year ago.

The UN Security Council has given both sides until May 16 to withdraw their forces from Abyei and return to peace talks on all their disputes or face possible sanctions.

The two Sudans have already missed one Security Council deadline to halt hostilities.

Nesirky said the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) had reported that South Sudan on Thursday "officially ordered the withdrawal of the South Sudan Police Service from Abyei."

"Following the announcement, some 700 South Sudan police, with the UN mission's logistical support, have relocated to South Sudan," the spokesman said.

"The UN mission is in the process of verifying that all South Sudan police elements ave withdrawn from the Abyei area."

UN officials said it could take days to confirm whether all the South's forces have left.

Sudan and South Sudan both claim the border region with fertile grazing and some oil reserves.

Sudan still has several hundred troops in Abyei and South Sudan has several hundred close to its border with the territory.

South Sudan seceded from the north in July last year. The two sides have since been in an increasingly bitter showdown over Abyei, the border, sharing oil wealth and who pays debts built up while they were one country.

The north and south fought a two-decade civil war up to 2005 in which more than two million people died.

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