Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Suspected Boko Haram militants killed in police raid in N'Djanmena

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Is Alexis Tsipras playing with fire?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Countdown to Grexit : Will Greek crisis trigger unwinding of the Euro? (part 2)

Read more

THE DEBATE

Countdown to Grexit : Will Greek crisis trigger unwinding of the Euro? (part 1)

Read more

FOCUS

Chimpanzees suffer collateral damage from increased poaching

Read more

ENCORE!

Dom La Nena brings us international, cello pop

Read more

REPORTERS

Kenya's vicious circle: Terrorism and counter-terrorism

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

EU Competition Commissioner says 'protecting integrity of single market'

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'Yemen is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe'

Read more

Africa

South Sudan rebels lose key oil town to govt forces

© afp

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-10

South Sudan's rebel leader and former vice president Riek Machar confirmed Friday that his forces had lost control of the key northern oil town of Bentiu, but vowed his fighters would continue their battle against the government.

"We withdrew from Bentiu, but it was to avoid fighting in the streets and save civilian lives. We fight on, we will continue the battle," Machar told AFP by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location in the country.

He said, however, that the rebels would remain engaged in peace talks that are taking place in neighbouring Ethiopia.

"Yes, we are committed," he said, without giving any indication if he was willing to agree to the immediate and unconditional ceasefire international mediators are seeking.

The peace talks have been overshadowed by continued clashes between President Salva Kiir’s SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army) government forces and rebels loyal to Machar.

The fighting first erupted on December 15 in Juba before rapidly spreading along ethnic faultlines across the country. Kiir is from the country’s Dinka group while Machar is a Nuer. The two tribal groups have fought each other in the past for domination, influence and resources.

Tactical withdrawal

Kiir has accused his long-term political rival Machar, whom he dismissed in July, of attempting to stage a coup and arrested 11 senior political figures he said were involved in the alleged plot.

Speaking to reporters in Addis Ababa, a rebel military spokesman described the loss of Bentiu as a "temporary setback".

"Our forces made a tactical withdrawal to avoid civilian casualties," Lul Ruai Koang said.

"The government does not have the capacity to defeat us militarily," he added, accusing the South Sudanese government of "bringing in mercenaries" from neighbouring Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan.

He also said rebels still controlled Unity State's oil infrastructure outside of Bentiu.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

Date created : 2014-01-10

  • South Sudan

    Direct talks on South Sudan ceasefire delayed

    Read more

  • SOUTH SUDAN

    Battle for oil adds new dimension to South Sudan conflict

    Read more

  • SOUTH SUDAN

    South Sudan army battles rebels in key town of Bor

    Read more

COMMENT(S)