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عربي

S. Sudanese rebels aim to recapture lost stronghold in oil-producing region

Bonifacio Taban
Rebels on Sunday said they were gearing up to recapture the town of Bentiu, which government forces regained last week, raising the spectre of further battles over the control of Unity State’s oilfields.
14.01.2014  |  Bentiu
IDPs in Bentiu, January 10.
IDPs in Bentiu, January 10.

Rebels forces who are fighting South Sudanese government accused the Sudanese rebels of attacking their base in Panakuach, north of the oil producing region, and taking five of their vehicles.

Peter Riek Gew, spokesman for the rebels loyal to Riek Machar, described clashes with Sudanese rebels and forces loyal to South Sudanese President Salva Kiir.

We vow to defeat them in a matter of days.”
Peter Riek Gew
He said they are preparing to recapture Bentiu town soon from the government despite their handful support from Sudan and its rebels. We vow to defeat them in a matter of days,” Gew said.

South Sudan’s army spokesman Philip Aguer said the final resistance in Bentiu -- a tank protecting a bridge to the city -- had been overcome at 14:30 local time on January 10.

Aguer told Reuters news agency: When you control Bentiu you control all the oil fields in Unity State.”

Unity State residents have confirmed Bentiu town was recaptured from the rebels by South Sudanese forces on Friday afternoon. Residents told The Niles they fled to the bushes saying rebels forces were defeated by mixed troops within Bentiu town.

When you control Bentiu you control all the oil fields in Unity State.”
Philip Aguer
They stayed away from home amid fear of renewed fighting in the strategic town, ignoring a government call for everyone to return home.

We will not take the risk of returning home as rebels still surround Bentiu town,” Nyadak Kai, a Bentiu resident, told The Niles over phone.

Opposition forces loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar accused the Justice and Equality MOvement (JEM) of interfering with South Sudanese affairs on supporting government troops loyal to President Kiir.

Aid workers in Yida camp last week said that they saw Sudanese rebels coming from Jau area of Unity State advancing to Parieng County preparing to launch an attack on the fourth division forces.

We will not take the risk of returning home as rebels still surround Bentiu town.”
Nyadak Kai
Violence continues across South Sudan, despite ongoing peace talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in a bid to end the conflict, which is estimated to have killed as many as 10,000 people and has displaced over 200,000.

Unity State has been cut off from neighbouring Sudan and from the South Sudanese capital Juba since fighting broke out on December 21, 2014. The conflict has left residents including children without food as roads are blocked and markets are empty.

In a BBC interview, former Vice President Riek Machar said that his forces will retake the strategic town of Bentiu soon.