News / Africa

S. Sudan Army Claims Recapture of Oil-producing State

Reuters
South Sudan's army said it regained a rebel-held northern town on Friday, giving the government control of a region where oil production had been halted by fighting that has left the world's youngest nation close to civil war.

Forces loyal to President Salva Kiir recaptured Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, in early afternoon, army spokesman Philip Aguer told Reuters. “When you control Bentiu you control all the oilfields in Unity state,” he said.

More than three weeks of fighting between government forces and rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar have killed more than 1,000 people and driven 230,000 from their homes and forced a cut in oil production.

Rebels made a “tactical withdrawal to avoid civilian casualties” in Bentiu, according to Lul Ruai Koang, a military spokesman for the rebel delegation attending stuttering peace talks in Ethiopia.

He said rebels continued to hold the surrounding countryside. He said the government forces had been backed by fighters from the Justice and Equality Movement, a rebel group from Sudan's Darfur province.
 
  • Three children walk through a spontaneous camp for internally displaced persons at the United Nations Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) base in Juba, Jan. 9, 2014.
  • People unload the few belongings on Jan. 9, 2014 at Minkammen, South Sudan, that they were able to bring with them to camps for the displaced.
  • Displaced men recuperate from their injuries as they rest on the floor at a United Nations hospital in Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • A displaced man, undergoing treatments for his injuries, is seen at a United Nations hospital at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Soldiers from Rwanda serving under United Nations Mission in South Sudan keep watch from an observatory point at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced people wash their clothes in a drainage canal at Tomping camp, near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced people prepare their meals at Tomping camp near Juba, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda, settle in the village of Ochaya, Jan. 7, 2013.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda rest and await transportation from a transit center in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda are seen in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.

South Sudan's rebels also accused neighboring Uganda of aiding Kiir by launching air strikes against their positions, something Kampala denies. Ugandan troops already patrol Juba's airport and guard the presidential palace, at Kiir's request.

South Sudan's oil production fell by 45,000 barrels per day to 200,000 bpd after oilfields in Unity state were shut down due to fighting. Upper Nile state is still pumping about 200,000 bpd, the government says.

U.S. weighs sanctions

Separately, sources briefed on U.S. discussions said Washington was weighing targeted sanctions against South Sudan due to its leaders' failure to end the crisis. Such sanctions focus on individuals, entities or sectors in a country.

“It is a tool that has been discussed,” one source told Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

The possibility of sanctions against a country Washington helped create in 2011 shows how frustrated President Barack Obama's administration has become with Kiir and Machar's rebel faction.

Washington on Thursday also cranked up the pressure for a deal, saying South Sudan risked losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid if the two sides did not end the violence.

Earlier on Friday, the United Nations accused both rebels and government forces of obstructing aid efforts.

Rebels had looted warehouses, commandeered aid agency vehicles and ransacked property in both Bentiu and the town of  Bor, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said.

Meanwhile, government authorities had hampered U.N. flights carrying supplies for peacekeepers and clinics and stopped some peacekeeper patrols, it said.

“These are clear violations of the agreement that regulates the United Nations' presence in South Sudan and is preventing UNMISS from implementing its mandate,” mission chief Hilde Johnson said in a statement.

The fighting, often along ethnic lines, is the worst in South Sudan since it won independence from Sudan in 2011. The unrest threatens to destabilize fragile east Africa.

President Kiir's SPLA government forces have also been fighting to regain control of Bor, capital of the restive Jonglei state.

Air strikes

In meetings in Ethiopia, the two camps are haggling over terms of a ceasefire. They were expected on Friday to submit their recommendations to a ceasefire proposal drafted by mediators.

Banks, markets and bars were open as normal in the capital, Juba, but food prices have jumped, petrol pumps are running dry and the South Sudanese pound is weakening on the black market.

While Uganda has publicly denied air strikes, two Ugandan military sources with knowledge of the operations said they were aware of airborne attacks, adding that 1,500-1,800 Ugandan troops were inside South Sudan.

“In Bor our boys have been backing up the SPLA in the latest push to retake it,” one Ugandan officer told Reuters. “Yesterday (Thursday) our MiGs conducted two bombings there.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has said east African nations would have to “defeat” Machar if he rejected a ceasefire, has come under fire at home for deploying troops across the border without seeking parliament's permission.    

Refugees pour into Uganda:

  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda, settle in the village of Ochaya, Jan. 7, 2013.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda rest and await transportation from a transit center in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.
  • Refugees who fled the recent violence in South Sudan and crossed the border into Uganda await transportation from a transit center in Koboko, Jan. 6, 2014.

You May Like

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

Ninety percent of homes in one small village were damaged or destroyed as government forces failed to stop a rebel advance More

Pakistan’s 'Last Self-Declared Jew' Attacked, Detained

Argument about the rights of non-Muslims in Pakistan allegedly results in mob beating well-known Jewish Pakistani More

Turkey Cracks Down on Political Dissent — Again

People daring to engage in political dissent ahead of upcoming general elections could find themselves in jail More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: tsban benard from: juba town
January 10, 2014 11:02 PM
Juba totally disagree with us proposal to stop aid to south sudan. this war is not for all south sudans' is only for two tribes. Who taught. They are the only south Sudanese. Not giving. Other tribes to have peace in this new nation.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobanii
X
Mahmoud Bali
March 06, 2015 8:43 PM
Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Their Own Words: Citizens of Kobani

Civilians are slowly returning to Kobani, after Kurdish fighters backed by coalition airstrikes fought off a four-month siege of the northern Syrian town by Islamic State militants. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Mahmoud Bali talked to some of those who have returned. We hear about the devastation of Kobani through their own words.
Video

Video In Ukraine's Nikishino, No House Untouched by Fighting

In the village of Nikishino, in eastern Ukraine, recent fighting has brought utter devastation. Ninety percent of the houses are damaged or destroyed after government forces tried and failed to stop rebels advancing on the strategically important town of Debaltseve nearby. Patrick Wells reports for VOA from Nikishino.
Video

Video Crime Scenes Re-Created in 3-D Visualization

Police and prosecutors sometimes resort to re-creations of crime scenes in order to better understand the interaction of all participants in complicated cases. A Swiss institute says advanced virtual reality technology can be used for quality re-creations of events at the moment of the crime. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Sierra Leone Ebola Orphans Face Another Crisis

There's growing concern about the future of an orphanage run by a British charity in Sierra Leone, after a staff member and his wife died this week from Ebola. The Saint George Foundation Orphanage in Freetown is now in quarantine, with more than 20 children and seven staff in lock-down. The BBC has agreed to share Ebola-related material with Voice of America because of the difficulties faced by media organizations reporting the crisis. Clive Myrie reports from Sierra Leone.
Video

Video Growing Concerns Over Whether Myanmar’s Next Elections Will Be Fair

Myanmar has scheduled national elections for November that are also expected to include a landmark referendum on the country's constitution. But there are growing concerns over whether the government is taking the necessary steps to prepare for a free and fair vote. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman was recently in Myanmar and files this report from our Southeast Asia bureau in Bangkok.
Video

Video Nigeria’s Ogonis Divided Over Resuming Oil Production

More than two decades ago, Nigeria’s Ogoni people forced Shell oil company to cease drilling on their land, saying it was polluting the environment. Now, some Ogonis say it’s time for the oil to flow once again. Chris Stein reports from Kegbara Dere, Nigeria.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More