Hoth also said that two members of the northern Misseriya tribe were killed and 27 tribesmen died in a separate attack on the southern army's position near the Heglig oilfields. He said no southern soldiers were killed.
   
He said: "We sustained six wounded with none dead."

Hoth said that before fighting began, Misseriya representatives had asked the southern forces to move from the area, which they consider part of northern Sudan.

South Sudan gained semi-autonomous status under a 2005 peace deal that ended over two decades of civil war and paved the way for a democratic transformation including elections next year and a referendum on southern independence due in 2011.
   
So far, the two sides have failed to agree on a definitive line of the north-south border.

Tribal clashes

A southern official also announced on Saturday that at least 95 people had been killed and 42 wounded in tribal clashes in a sparsely populated area north of Juba, the capital of southern Sudan, on Tuesday.

Press reports say that the fighting also targeted equipment and facilities used in the country's census. 
  
The battles broke out between two branches of the Dinka tribe after a dispute over cattle, the daily Al-Sahafa reported, adding that dozens of people had been left dead in the streets.
  
Tribal clashes, often provoked by cattle theft, are frequent in southern Sudan, but rarely kill so many.
  
Martin Manil Wol, who is supervising the census, said the attackers burned down all of the census facilities, including 12 boxes of questionnaire forms.

The census, the first in 15 years, started on Tuesday. The two-week process will prepare constituencies for national elections and confirm or adjust the wealth and power-sharing ratios in the central government.
  
Sudan's impoverished south has refused to be bound by the results, while those fighting the government in Darfur, a western region of Sudan, have boycotted the count.
 
Both accuse the Arab north of manipulating the census to maximise its control and marginalise the African majority.