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South Sudanese authorities reported the deaths of at least 25 people on Tuesday following a clash between government forces and rebel groups in the oil-producing regions in the north of the world’s youngest country.
The rebels pledge their loyalty to Former Deputy President Riek Machar, who has been exiled by the central government. On Monday, a village called Nhialdiu became the site of the clash, continuing a months-long pattern of the town changing hands unpredictably.
"The number of the bodies that were found on the ground were 25," said Lam Tungwar, information minister for Northern Liech State, adding that the rebel attack was "repulsed".
The rebels, who go by the acronym SPLA-IO, said that the attack was a “successful operation” which gave the “gallant SPLA-IO forces control of Nhialdiu.” Nineteen South Sudanese soldiers died, allowing the group to seize the weapons under their command.
Last year, Tungwar had announced an increase in security in Northern Liech to ensure that oil production continues its recovery through the ongoing civil war. The Tharjiath field had been slated to resume output at pre-2013 levels after the security checks had been completed, though key repairs remained incomplete.
“After the visit of the minister of petroleum on 4 January, we managed to complete all preparations for the protection of the oil field in Northern Liech,” Tungwar told reporters at the time. “We are now waiting for the national government to send the companies so that they repair the damaged facilities during the fighting. So, if this is thing is done, we will restart the production.”
It is unclear if the oilfield has been affected by the string of clashes in recent months, but South Sudan’s goal for the year was to double oil output to 290,000 barrels per day, according to a January announcement.
By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com
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Zainab Calcuttawala is an American journalist based in Morocco. She completed her undergraduate coursework at the University of Texas at Austin (Hook’em) and reports on…