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South Sudanese rebels say regained control of Unity state oil field

July 5, 2015 (BENTIU) - South Sudanese rebels allied to former vice president Riek Machar have taken full control of Koch county in Unity state, including the main oil production site at Tharjath, a spokesperson for the rebel-appointed governor disclosed.

A worker at the power plant of an oil processing facility in South Sudan’s Unity state on 22 April 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Major Weirial Puok told Sudan Tribune Sunday that their forces regained control of the strategic oil production site Saturday as their troops advance towards the capital, Bentiu.

“We have regained full control of all oil fields in Koch and Guit counties, and our forces are still pursuing pro government toward Bentiu,” Puok said over phone.

He claims pro government had inflicted heavy loss to their forces over the battle of main oil fields south of state capital, Bentiu, a matter Sudan Tribune could not easily verify.

“Many of pro-government forces died and few of them surrendered when our forces took control of the area yesterday. We are on high speed towards Bentiu town,” he added.

The armed opposition forces, said the official, recaptured some cattle allegedly looted by pro-government from civilians when they attacked a rebel stronghold, south of the state.

“Today we have recaptured 60 herds of cattle from pro government and we believe many of civilian’s properties are under their hostage in Bentiu. Our intelligence are monitoring their whereabouts and soon we shall return them to rightful owners,” said Puok.

Pro-government forces backed up by armed civilians recapture Rubkotna, Guit, and Koch and Leer counties from the armed opposition forces between April and May this year.

A United Nations report released last week accused the South Sudanese army of committing war crimes by raping and burning women and children in Unity state villages.

More than 100,000 people have been displaced in Leer, humanitarian agencies say. Majority of those displaced reportedly live in horrible conditions within bushes or shrubs.

Meanwhile, many of the children are believed to have died due to lack of food and proper health care systems, with malaria and malnutrition accounting for most death cases.

(ST)