South Sudan: Rebels and government forces clash in oil-rich Unity State

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Reports from South Sudan’s Oil-rich unity state indicate that fresh fighting erupted between government and rebel troops in the early hours of Monday November 14.

The fighting has been reported in Nhialdiu, which is a large village in Unity State, about 40 kilometres to the southwest of Bentiu.

There are no official casualties reported yet. However, an official affiliated to opposition leader Riek Machar’s told Radio Tamazuj that the fighting came as a result of an attempt by government troops to attack their positions. He added government troops have been agitating since Friday.

Plural news website Sudan Tribune earlier reported that opposition forces withdrew from the town of Nhialdiu ending the over two days of squabbles with government troops.

The withdrawal could spark fresh fighting between armed factions affiliated to exiled leader Machar and those loyal to the current vice president Taban Deng Gai whose contest in the area has been on high of late.

Gai is reported using money to lure commanders from Riek Machar to his side according to a source quoted by the Sudan Tribune.

“All the fronts in Upper Nile region are falling apart due to this fighting, and the regime is taking advantage of it. This is what Salva Kiir and his lieutenants are trying to accomplish. They are using divide and rule tactics. Now Taban using is trying very hard so that he pleases Salva Kiir but I don’t think they will succeed because there is no way the cause can easily be forgotten”, he remarked.

SPLA-IO spokesperson James Yoach denied reports by a government official that the armed group has kidnapped humanitarian aid workers and civilians.

Northern Liech State Information Minister Lam Tungwar told xinhua news that “It was a surprise attack on Sunday where they overrun the town and looted property. Twenty-one humanitarian workers residing in the UN OCHA compound were taken away. The government is trying its best to rescue them,” Tungwar said.

The World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed to Radio Tamazuj that none of its workers was abducted in Nhialdiu area, saying they do not have any information about the abduction of aid workers in Unity State.