World Bulletin / News Desk
The South Sudanese army announced on Sunday recapturing Bentiu, the capital of the Unity State, and Nasir, a small town in the Upper Nile State considered a strong hold of rebel forces loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar.
"We have freed Bentiu and Nasir from the hands of the rebels," army spokesman Philip Aguer told Anadolu Agency.
He did not elaborate on causalities resulting from the fighting.
Nasir, which is located on South Sudan's easternmost border with Ethiopia, was a launch pad for attacks on the city of Malakal and other cities in the Upper Nile State.
But a spokesman for rebel leader Riek Machar said fighters loyal to the former vice president had driven the government troops out in an early morning counter-attack.
Bentiu has changed hands several times since fighting broke out in the capital Juba between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and troops backing Machar in mid-December, quickly spreading across the country.
The violence, triggered by a power struggle between the two men, has often followed ethnic faultlines, pitting Kiir's Dinka against Machar's Nuer, and has forced a complete halt to oil production in Unity.
Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than a million forced to flee their homes, prompting U.N. warnings of a famine in some parts of the country, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011.
Kerry travelled to the east African country on Friday, with peace negotiations in neighbouring Ethiopia going nowhere. A January ceasefire deal failed.
Kiir told Washington's top diplomat that he was ready for face-to-face talks with Machar, but his rival held off from promising to take part.
"The trauma that continued fighting in Bentiu today is having upon civilians is huge," she said.
Fears of a descent into genocide grew after the United Nations said rebels had massacred hundreds of civilians in Bentiu last month. Days later, residents of Bor, a predominantly Dinka town, attacked Nuer camped in a U.N. base.
Army spokesman Aguer said the SPLA had also taken back the town of Nasir, in Upper Nile state, an important base for the rebels in Upper Nile state which continues to pump oil.
Oil output, South Sudan's economic lifeline, has been cut by a third to about 160,000 barrels per day since fighting began.
Last Mod: 05 Mayıs 2014, 12:41