Sudan withdraws police from disputed oil-rich area

Sudan's army said it withdrew a contingent of police on Friday from the disputed oil-rich Abyei region that South Sudan also claims following moves by both sides to pull out their armies from the area.

The official Sudanese news agency, SUNA, quoted military spokesman Col. Sawarme Khalid Saad as saying the 169-strong police force withdrew from Abyei on Friday afternoon.

Earlier in the day the spokesman had told the official Radio Ombdurman that the police force stationed in Abyei would remain there to protect the Difra oil fields.

A U.N. peacekeeping mission comprised of Ethiopian troops is now in charge of maintaining Abyei's security.

South Sudan was the first side to pull its troops out of Abyei, followed by Sudan which withdrew its soldiers this week.

Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan escalated last month. The two sides held talks in the Ethiopian capital this week on security and demarcation issues left over from the 2005 peace deal under which the south broke away from Sudan after years of civil war.