Despite rebels claim, S. Sudan gov't says it still controls Bentiu

The rebels had earlier claimed full control of Bentiu, capital of the oil-producing Unity State.

Despite rebels claim, S. Sudan gov't says it still controls Bentiu

World Bulletin / News Desk

South Sudanese Defense Minister Koul Manyang Juuk said late on Tuesday that his Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) was still in Bentiu, the provincial capital of the oil-producing Unity State.

"The SPLA forces are still in the town. They are in the southern part," Juuk told reporters in Juba.

Peter Riek Gew, a spokesman for the rebel forces loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar, said earlier today that they had seized control of Bentiu.

"It is not true that the rebels are in full control of Bentiu," said Minister Juuk. "The SPLA is still controlling one part of the town."

The defense minister, however, said he was not sure who was in control of the town center.

Toby Lanzer, U.N. deputy head of mission and humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, told a press briefing on Tuesday morning that fighting was still raging in Bentiu.

"Hundreds of women and children have been caught up in the violence at the hospital in Bentiu," he said.

Lanzer said the U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) had dispatched peacekeepers to protect vulnerable people at the hospital.

South Sudan has been shaken by violence since last December, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of trying to overthrow his regime.

The conflict has already claimed more than 10,000 lives, with the U.N. estimating that some one million South Sudanese have been displaced by the violence.

Sudan denies military training for S. Sudan rebels

Sudan has denied reports about providing rebel forces loyal to sacked South Sudanese vice president Riek Machar with military training.

"These reports are totally groundless," army spokesman Col. al-Sawarmi Khalik Sa’ad said in a press release on Tuesday.

He termed the accusations as "an attempt to spoil the recent visit by President Salva Kiir to Khartoum".

Sudanese media had attributed accusations by South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer that Khartoum has provided rebels with military training.

The accusations came one week after the South Sudanese army spokesman accused Khartoum of shelling the oil-rich Unity State.

Al-Sawarmi said that the Sudanese government and army are "pursuing neutrality regarding the situation in South Sudan".

Last Mod: 16 Nisan 2014, 11:05
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