23 April 2014, News Wires – South Sudan has said it is only a matter of time before government troops win back control of a key oil patch that was seized recently by rebels in bloody gun battles.
There has also been violence in other key oil states in the world’s newest nation, where rebels loyal to former vice president Riek Machar rejected accusations of war crimes.
Rebels earlier this month seized the key oil town of Bentiu, capital of Unity state, forcing oil workers for Russian company Safinat to evacuate the Unity oilfield.
Although the town remains in rebel hands, army spokesperson Philip Aguer told the BBC’s Focus on Africa Programme that order will eventually be restored.
“The victory that’s been achieved by the rebels is temporary, it’s just a matter of time [before] they will be out of Bentiu,” Aguer said.
There has also been an outbreak of fighting in the town of Renk in north-east Upper Nile state in the past week.
“That should be condemned internationally,” Aguer said of the attacks in Renk. “There is no war where you bombard residential areas indiscriminately at night… [it has] caused havoc and fear.
“I have never seen a movement that have a desire in killing many people as possible as Riek Machar’s force.”
Heavy fighting has also been reported in Duk town in Jonglei state, but government troops managed to repel the attack.
The United Nations has condemned the ethnically-motivated slaughter of civilians in Bentiu by rebels. Hundreds were claimed to have been shot at a mosque, church and hospital.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan’s capital Juba in mid-December after President Salva Kiir accused former vice president Machar of plotting a coup – something the latter denied.
Feuding quickly spread to other states, forcing the world’s newest nation to shut in about one fifth of its production.
Peace has largely reigned in the oil-rich nation, however, following a truce agreed in late January in Ethiopia.
South Sudan split from Sudan in July 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the original country’s oil reserves.
Khartoum relies heavily on revenues from oil production in South Sudan, which must use its neighbour’s midstream and port infrastructure for exports.