Sudan’s Bashir vows to punish South

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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Thursday vowed to teach “a lesson by force” to the South Sudanese government over its seizure of the north’s main Heglig oil field. Keeping up the war rhetoric that has sparked expressions of concern from the United States, Bashir dismissed talk by the United Nations that sanctions might be imposed on South Sudan. “America will not invoke sanctions on them, and the (UN) Security Council will not, but the Sudanese people are going to punish them,” declared Bashir, who holds the rank of field marshal and wore desert camouflage and a beret to address a rally of paramilitary troops. On the battlefield, the Southern army repulsed ground attacks in recent hours in a widening conflict zone along the border, said the South’s military spokesman Philip Aguer. Ground assaults and air strikes were reported in the Heglig region, as well as the three Southern states of Unity, Western and Northern Bahr El-Ghazal, he said, adding that the Southern army was “still in its positions”. Sudan has vowed to reclaim Heglig “by hook or crook”. AFP reporters who have visited the Heglig battle zone along the disputed border say dead bodies and destroyed tanks are strewn around. Southern troops are entrenched in positions around the area. On Tuesday the UN Security Council discussed possible sanctions against both Sudan and South Sudan in a bid to halt a wider war after the fighting broke out on April 10. Clashes escalated last week with waves of air strikes hitting the South, and Juba’s seizure of the Heglig oil hub, which delt a huge blow to Khartoum’s already faltering economy.