20 December 2013, News Wires – Sixteen workers in two oilfields said to have died in South Sudan clashes in past two days
Violent clashes in South Sudan have left 16 oil workers at two oilfields dead, according to a report.
Five workers were killed in the Unity field on Wednesday and another 11 in the Thar Jath field on Thursday, according to Reuters.
Government troops have, however, retaken control of the fields and there was no loss of production, according to the news wire.
“We have sent reinforcements to Unity yesterday night and they contained the situation,” Unity state deputy governor Mabek Lang De Mading told Reuters.
“This morning fighting broke out in Thar Jath. We have sent reinforcements and they have now contained the situation. It is stable now.”
Earlier on Thursday, Reuters reported that oil workers who have taken shelter at a United Nations base to escape deadly fighting in South Sudan are set to be evacuated from Unity state by their employer.
The Juba administration has moved to assure international bodies on Thursday that the situation in the oil-rich country’s capital is back to “total normalcy” following the foiling of an alleged coup attempt last weekend.
Some 200 oil workers took refuge at a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) base to flee fighting, Reuters reported, but are due to be take out of Unity state soon.
“We expect their presence to be temporary because we understand that the company they are working for will be arranging for transport to get out of Unity state,” UN spokesperson in South Sudan Joe Contreras told the news wire.
The country, which gained independence from Sudan and took with it around three-quarter of the original country’s oil reserves, has been rocked by heavy violence following the discovery of an alleged plot by former vice president Riek Machar to overthrow the government of President Salva Kiir.
Machar has denied any such plot was in place, but rebel forces said to be loyal to him have taken control of the town of Bor, capital of Jonglei state.
The government on Thursday tried to calm fears over violence in Juba, where fighting began earlier this week.
“Civil tranquility has been fully restored following the ‘aborted coup of’,” a statement from the government read on Thursday.
“As a sign of normalcy, the ministry in a media advisory said Juba International Airport has resumed domestic and International flights; government ministries at the federal and state levels are discharging theirs duties and businesses across Juba town are open.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Barnaba Benjamin continued: “The ministry … can now assure the South Sudanese public and the world at large that government security forces are in absolute control of the situation. There is therefore no need to panic or engage on haphazard evacuation.”
UNMISS said on its website that it had “observed a noticeable improvement in security conditions in much of Juba (on Wednesday)”.
“The Mission lifted restrictions on the movement of its personnel (on Wednesday morning). It has resumed patrols on a limited basis in the city itself and it restored flight service to and from the Ugandan city of Entebbe.”