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Fighting in Bentiu Leaves Control of S. Sudan Oil Town Unclear

Bor, South Sudan

South Sudan says the oil town of Bentiu remains under government control, but a main opposition group in the country says that is not true. The rebel group says it seized control of the town after three days of heavy fighting.

A spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army and one for the rebel People's Liberation Army in Opposition each claimed Wednesday his group has control of the Unity state capital.

SPLA-IO spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the rebels took control of the town Wednesday afternoon, but SPLA-Juba spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer said, “That is a lie.”

Aguer said SPLA-Juba managed to defeat the rebels Wednesday about 4 p.m. after four hours of fierce fighting.

Thousands of people have been killed, and more than a million have fled their homes since fighting erupted in December.

According to analysts, the violence was triggered by a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

The conflict has disrupted oil production, which provides a big portion of the government's revenue.

Diplomats and analysts say there could be a surge in fighting as the dry season approaches, after a lull during the rainy season.