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Clashes Reported in South Sudan Oil State As Peace Talks Resume

Fresh fighting is reported near Malakal in South Sudan's oil-producing Upper Nile state, even as the warring sides gather in Addis Ababa for round two of peace talks.
Fresh fighting is reported near Malakal in South Sudan's oil-producing Upper Nile state, even as the warring sides gather in Addis Ababa for round two of peace talks.
Andrew Green
Officials in South Sudan's largest oil-producing state, Upper Nile, said Thursday that clashes are continuing in parts of the state between pro- and anti-government forces, with reports saying scores of fighters have been killed.

Upper Nile Information Minister Philip Jiben Ogai said he had received reports that 82 anti-government fighters were killed and more than 100 wounded in the clashes.

He was unable to report on fatalities or injuries among the pro-government Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), but said they had driven the rebels back to a remote part of northern Jonglei state.

“The situation is under control. Even the oil field is all right," Ogai said. The bulk of South Sudan's oil, which is the backbone of the young country's economy, is produced in Upper Nile state, with the remainder coming from Unity state.

Ogai blamed the anti-government forces for starting the unrest near Malakal and violating the cessation of hostilities agreement signed on January 23.

But a spokesman for the opposition forces, Lul Ruai Koang, laid the blame for the clashes with the SPLA.

Koang also said the pro-government side had vastly inflated the death toll in the fighting, adding that reports he had received said fewer than 10 people were killed in the clashes.

The new outbreak of violence in Upper Nile came as the two sides in South Sudan's conflict gathered in Addis Ababa for a second round of talks to establish a political dialogue and foster national reconciliation in the young country, where some 900,000 people have been displaced from their homes and thousands killed since violence erupted in mid-December.

"The government is not even ready to give this second round a very conducive environment,” Koang said. 

The fighting in Upper Nile is just the latest breach of the three-week-old cessation of hostilities agreement. Fierce fighting has also been reported in Leer in Unity state, and at least 32 civilians were reported to have been killed last week in an attack on a village near the Jonglei state capital, Bor. Both sides have traded accusations over who was responsible for starting the new clashes.

President Salva Kiir has blamed weeks of deadly  violence in South Sudan on a failed bid to oust him that he says was masterminded by former vice president Riek Machar and a dozen other senior figures in the ruling SPLM party, all of whom have denied the accusations.

Lucy Poni contributed to this report from Nairobi

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Comments
     
by: NICHOLAS HENRY ELIAS from: JUBA SOUTH SUDAN
February 19, 2014 11:17 AM
AMERICANS keep on supporting the killers of innocent pple in africa soil secondly you are imposing gay marriage on africans which is against gods laws once you will not escaped gods punishment atall@


by: Nicholas from: Juba
February 14, 2014 12:52 PM
WHY AMERICA? If not so God must be crazy of creating Africans black with their many resouces ready to belooted by americans bycreating Revelions in african counries IthinkGod has become mad&deaf for notlooking into what americans are betraying this nation by supporting the Riek Machar's rebels however wedon't have power of creating revelion in american soil BUT one time one day God will do his best in American soil so that they experience power of lord .Secondly believed in americans but those are thieves they don't go to front line with his troops shame on both of you Americans and you Riek; now what next Riek's forces were defeated Americans didn't go to frontline Riek will end up in the bush like joseph kony & Americans will be loughing on you and that will be the end of your reletionship with americans and you will come back.to your peole later you face the court of justic annd americans can't stand for you sorrowfull toyou@.


by: Nicholas from: Juba
February 14, 2014 10:06 AM
AMERICA in a big letters is is aheadache to our young nation. if im not mistaken america the super power is abig supporter of Riek Machars rebels America must be very careful

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