South Sudan

Jonglei: Battle between army and rebels

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At least 160 people were killed in a battle between the armed forces and a rebel group in the Jonglei region of South Sudan, according to an army spokesman, who also accused Khartoum of fueling instability in the key oil area.

According to Colonel Philip Aguer, 20 soldiers and 143 fighters of the group headed by former general David Yau Yau were killed. The spokesman also stated that in Okello the army seized an air strip used by Khartoum’s air force to provide arms and equipment to the rebels, though there is n independent confirmation on the report.

According to Colonel Aguer, Sudan is fueling instability in Jonglei to impede oil operations in the area and a project for building an oil pipeline that takes to Ethiopia and the port of Djibouti. South Sudan currently can only export oil through Khartoum’s territory on payment of transit fees agreed after a long negotiation.

Jonglei is among the most unstable regions of South Sudan, where since independence from Khartoum two years ago fighting between the Luo Nuer and Murle communities left over 2,000 dead. Yau Yau’s rebel group, whose offensive over the past year displaced some 17,000, is mostly backed by the Murle.

According to South Sudan’s Catholic radios, fighting between the army and rebels in the past days forced hundreds to flee to the Kakuma refugee camp over the Kenyan border. [VG/BO]