Sudan Arrests Four Foreigners Near Border

May 1, 2012 Updated: May 1, 2012

Sudan on Saturday said it arrested four foreigners in the oil rich area of Heglig for illegally entering the country and accused them of spying for the South Sudan army, reported the Sudan Tribune.

South Sudan, however, denied the claims and the United Nations mission in Juba later said Sudan arrested a mine-clearing team.

A Norwegian, a South African, a Briton, and a South Sudanese were detained and flown to the Khartoum airport, according to the Tribune.

“They were arrested inside the Sudanese territory in Heglig, doing ‘suspicious work,'” Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Al-Sawarmi Khaled said. Khaled said the men were collecting the debris of military equipment that was destroyed during recent clashes between the two countries.

On Sunday, a state of emergency was then declared by Sudan in areas surrounding its border with South Sudan.

The state of emergency gives the country sweeping powers to arrest and detain, along with “special tribunals” to prosecute suspects on terror and customs offense charges, The Associated Press reported.

According to the BBC, South Sudanese forces fired at Sudanese helicopters on Sunday. After that, the Sudanese army responded with artillery fire.