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Clashes in Several South Sudanese Towns

The United Nations says government forces in South Sudan are battling rebel troops in several towns across the volatile country.

A statement from the U.N. Mission in South Sudan says fighting in Mayom, in Unity State, has led to the town changing hands twice over the past several days. It says the latest reports indicate the town is under the control of government forces, but it says fighting persists.

A U.N. spokesman says there also are clashes near Manga, north of the state capital, Bentiu. He also reports clashes in the towns of Mapel and Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, and that the fighting in Wau involves heavy weapons and mortars.

Fighting in South Sudan broke out in December between forces of President Salva Kiir's government and rebels loyal to his former vice president, Riek Machar.

The United Nations says rebels killed hundreds of people based on their nationality or ethnic origin after seizing control of Bentiu April 15. Rebel spokesmen have denied carrying out the killings.

Several months of violence has led to thousands of deaths and driven more than 1.1 million people from their homes. Tens of thousands are sheltering in U.N. bases throughout the country.

The United Nations has nearly 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan.

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