Sudan's military says 169 policemen remain in the disputed oil-rich Abyei region following the army's withdrawal from the area this week.

Military spokesman Colonel Sawarme Khalid Saad told the official Radio Ombdurman on Friday that the police stationed in Abyei are there to protect the Difra oil fields.

He says the police are stationed there in agreement with South Sudan, which also claims the region.

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

Fighting between Sudan and South Sudan escalated last month. The two sides held talks in the Ethiopian capital this week on security and border issues left over from the 2005 peace deal under which the south broke away from Sudan. – Sapa-AP