Finger-pointing over Sudanese oil spats

June 14, 2013 at 6:49 AM

KHARTOUM, Sudan, June 14 (UPI) -- A rebel movement from South Sudan denied responsibility for an attack on an oil pipeline in a volatile oil-rich region bordering Sudan.

The Sudanese military issued a statement Thursday accusing the rebel Justice and Equality Movement of bombing an oil pipeline near the volatile border region known as Abyei.

The U.S. government this week expressed disappointment with a statement from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who said he would shut down oil pipelines from South Sudan because of rebel concerns.

South Sudan gained power over oil fields when it secured independence in 2011 under the terms of a peace deal brokered with U.S. help. Sudan maintained control over export infrastructure.

The independent Sudan Tribune cited an unquoted statement from rebel leaders who said they weren't behind the oil pipeline attacks. A rebel spokesman said it wasn't involved in operations near the region, adding U.N. peacekeepers were responding to other armed gangs in the area.

The United Nations didn't verify the statements to the Sudanese newspaper.

South Sudan and Sudan approached the brink of war in 2012 over oil disputes. Those disputes, along with general fighting, have threatened to derail the peace agreement that secured South Sudan's independence.

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