World Bulletin / News Desk
A South Sudanese official said on Saturday that clashes were raging between government forces and rebels in Malakal, the capital city of Upper Nile State.
The city is not under the full control of the government forces, the city's information minister Philip Jiben told Anadolu Agency.
He said government troops are still chasing rebel forces loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar in the city.
South Sudan has been shaken by violence since mid-December, when President Salva Kiir accused Machar of standing behind a failed coup attempt against his regime.
More than 1,000 people have reportedly been killed in the recent unrest and over 230,000 displaced.
Jiben accused Machar's forces of recruiting children to fight against government forces.
But rebel spokesman Yohanis Musa Pouk told AA in Addis Ababa that Machar's forces were controlling most areas in the Upper Nile state, including Malakal since Thursday.
He said that Machar's troops had expelled government forces from large areas in the oil-rich state, which produces around 200,000 barrels of oil per day.
Pouk argued that Juba's denial of the rebel control of the area aims to keep high the morale of the South Sudanese army.
He said that Machar's troops are now besieging the capital Juba and are fighting with the government forces, which, according to him, is backed by the Ugandan army, near to Mangala, north of Juba.
Pouk called for the withdrawal of Ugandan troops from his country, considering the presence of the Ugandan troops as a "direct interference" in internal South Sudanese affairs.
Observers opine that the South Sudanese army would seek to tighten its grip on vital areas, particularly oil-producing cities, including Malakal, in the coming days.
According to observers, controlling the vital areas would be a strategic asset for both warring parties in this fledgling country.Last Mod: 18 Ocak 2014, 14:21