25 May 2015, News Wires – South Sudan’s government is reported to have wrested control of oil-producing Upper Nile State, the scene of heavy fighting in recent days, from rebel fighters.
South Sudanese rebels said last week they had captured a refinery near a major oilfield in Upper Nile State, where fighting has flared in recent days, and told companies there to shut down operations and evacuate their staff in expectation of a full-fledged assault.
But the government said in a statement that its forces were now in full control of Upper Nile, according to Reuters.
“The Upper Nile has been freed from the rebels and from Johnson Olony. Our citizens and our oilfields are under the protection of the army of the government of South Sudan,” the president’s office said.
“We mourn the loss of South Sudanese lives and we will do everything in our power to ensure that the people of the Upper Nile will have calm restored to their lives.”
Violence erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, when President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy and rival, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup.
Olony, a major general in the South Sudan Army (SPLA), switched sides with his men to join Machar earlier this month.
Rebel group SPLA-in-Opposition earlier said its fighters had destroyed or captured an assortment of military hardware in Unity state belonging to the government, including tanks, trucks and armoured personnel carriers.
Government officials were not available to comment on this.