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Clashes in S Sudan as African states mediate

Agencies | Updated: 2013-12-20 10:41

Oil field clashes

Jodi Jonglei Boyoris, a senior official in Juba, said his family were trapped in Bor and were trying to reach a UN camp for safety.

"There is no fighting at all because those soldiers who were in Bor town evacuated as of this morning," he said.

UN diplomats have estimated between 400 and 500 dead in the clashes and say about 20,000 people have flocked to the bases of UN peacekeepers for refuge. But the United Nations says its 7,000 to 8,000 peacekeepers will not intervene in the conflict.

A UN base in Akobo in Jonglei state was attacked on Thursday and the United Nations received reports that some people had been killed, Deputy UN Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said. "The situation in Jonglei has deteriorated," he said.

A UN spokesman said the 200 or so oil workers who fled to a UN base in the Bentiu oil producing area were expected to be evacuated by their company, which he did not name.

Mabek Lang De Mading, deputy governor of Unity State, one of the main oil producing areas, said forces were sent to Unity field, where five people were killed after workers fought with spears and sticks, and to Thar Jath field, where 11 were killed.

"It is stable now," he said.

China National Petroleum Corp, India's ONGC Videsh and Malaysia's Petronas < PETR.UL> are the main firms running the oilfields. Total has exploration acreage in country. South Sudan, a nation the size of France, has the third largest reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria, according to BP.

Oil production, which had been about 245,000 barrels per day, supplies the government with most of its revenues.

As tension in South Sudan mounted following the sacking of Machar, the former vice president accused Kiir was acting like a dictator. The president said his rivals were reviving the splits of 1991 that led to bloodshed.

South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in 2011. A persistent dispute with Sudan over their border, oil and security have added to the sense of crisis.

The row led to the shutting of oil production for about 15 months until earlier this year, slashing state revenues and undermining efforts to improve public services in a nation of 11 million people but with barely any tarmac roads.

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