Armed looters set ablaze parts of Sudan's disputed Abyei border town, days after the UN asked the North-Sudanese troops to seize it on Monday.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said the North wants a peaceful solution but the army whch controlled the territory is defying the demands by the U.N. Security Council. This has also drawn sharp criticism from the United States.

The Northern army sent tanks into Abyei on Saturday, after weeks of growing tension and accusations of skirmishes by both sides, the United Nations said. Thousands of people fled, leaving Abyei town empty, with disrupted food supplies.

South Sudan also accused Khartoum of trying to provoke war to prevent the oil-rich South from becoming an independent country.

It had voted to break away in the January referendum from the North, but the referendum vote split the oil-rich south from the North, while both sides stake a claim to Abyei, which lies on the border between the two regions.

Analysts fear that the North-South fighting over Abyei could reignite a full blown conflict in Africa's largest country, a move that could have a devastating impact on the surrounding region, said a Reuters report.

The South voted to declare them independent from the North in a January referendum, promised in the 2005 peace deal that ended the last North-South civil war.

Both Sudan's North and the South, claim the fertile, oil-producing Abyei border region. Ownership was not settled in the peace deal that ended decades of civil war.

The U.N. Mission (UNMIS) condemns the burning and looting currently being perpetrated by armed elements in Abyei town, said U.N. spokesman Kouider Zerrouk.

U.N. Security Council envoys, who earlier demanded the North withdraw, met the Southern government in the Southern capital Juba on Monday.