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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs