Salva Kiir, South Sudan’s president, has denied that his armed forces damaged the contested Heglig oilfield they seized for 10 days earlier this month because it belongs to South Sudan.

“Panthou and the oil on top of it is ours … it is impossible that we would damage or destroy [the facilities],” Kiir, using South Sudan’s name for the Heglig oilfield, told tens of thousands of supporters on Friday after his return from China.

Both South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan and became independent last July, and Sudan claim the Heglig oilfield. South Sudan said its forces withdrew from the area last Friday after coming under intense diplomatic pressure to pull back.

“One day, if there is law in this world, Panthou will come back to us by law … That’s why this talk about us damaging [the oilfield] is a lie,” he said,

Satellite images have shown serious damage to some of the infrastructure. Each side has accused the other of damaging the facilities, part of a war of words that has accompanied local fighting along the 1,800 km (1,100 mile) contested border in what was once Africa’s largest country.  Read more…