14 January 2014, Juba – Oil workers based in South Sudan’s Unity state have confirmed the looting of oil installation facilities, including computers, alleging rebels from Sudan’s Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) fighting alongside government troops in the area were responsible.
In a telephone interview with Sudan Tribune on Saturday, one of the oil workers said rebels stormed the offices of oil facilities, taking important items, including food supplies meant for those guarding equipment at the sites.
“When the fighting broke out on Friday, we saw many Sudanese rebels carrying heavy ammunitions to attack the areas. They manage to take control of Bentiu town from rebels with [a] few soldiers from [the] government side”, said a source that spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
After falling to South Sudanese rebels aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar, government troops on Friday regained control of Unity state capital, Bentiu.
JEM have denied playing an role in the recapture of the town, describing the claims as “totally unfounded”.
The spokesperson for the Darfur rebel group, Girbril Bilal, maintains all its troops remain in South and West Kordofan states, where they are currently engaged in fighting the Sudanese army.
“The Justice and Equality Movement stands at an equal distance from the warring parties in the South Sudan”, said Bilal.
However, residents in oil-rich Bentiu maintained on Saturday that JEM fighters, along with government troops were present in the town, but had since moved to areas north of the state’s oil fields.
Bangoang Khan, a Bentiu resident said he had gone in to town on Saturday morning to assess the damage by Sudanese rebels, saying Ivory Bank and the Kenyan Commercial Bank (KCB) were all plundered.
Khan, who is critical of the South Sudanese government over JEM’s alleged involvement on the crisis, accused Sudanese rebels of coming in to the area allegedly with the sole intention of causing damage.
Meanwhile, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) issued a statement on Friday confirming their facilities were looted after rebels withdrew from Bentiu.
– Sudan Tribune