Machar takes Akoka, orders oilfields shutdown




South Sudan rebels under Riek Machar have captured Akako town in Upper Nile State.

Akoka County Information Officer, Bol Ador, told Radio Tamazuj that 35 houses were burned and a medical clinic and county office were destroyed in fighting that started on Sunday.

After overrunning Akoka town, rebels advanced towards Melut.

In a statement extended to The Insider Tuesday, James Gatdet Dak, Machar’s spokesman, said SPLM/SPLA leadership has asked all oil companies operating in Upper Nile state to shut down their operations and evacuate their staff immediately.

“We also ask them to do the process of closing down in a safe manner that will not damage the oil facilities and cause environmental damage,” Gatdet said, adding that, “this is a matter of urgency!”

He said the shutdown was prompted by the ongoing clashes between rebel forces and pro-Salva Kiir’s troops near the oilfields.

“Our gallant forces have repulsed and pursued government forces up to the oilfields this Tuesday morning.”

“We have on Tuesday night captured Tangrial Bil, the site of oil the refinery, which is about 10kms away from the main Paloch oilfields.”

He said the SPLM/SPLA forces have captured Melut town and that fighting was now going on inside Paloch oilfields, which is 5 kilometers from Melut town.

“A large quantity of heavy weaponry have been captured in Melut town. Very soon the country’s oilfields will be under our full control and care,” he added.

In the Tuesday clashes, the rebels captured government’s warship mounted with heavy artilleries.

In response to the government’s full scale offensive on their positions in the three states of greater Upper Nile region, rebels have decided to take control of the oilfields and deny Salva Kiir from using the oil revenues to perpetuate the war.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said over the past three days of fighting in Upper Nile, women have been report, homes destroyed and lives lost.

UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that dozens of children were killed during the recent military operations in Unity State, saying that at least 19 boys and 7 girls were killed, at least 12 children were raped, others were mutilated and others were forcibly recruited to join in fighting.

The Red Cross also says that Kodok town was shelled and largely deserted by its inhabitants.

Three parties to the fighting – SPLA-Juba, SPLA-IO and Shilluk militia commanded by Johnson Olony – have clashed since Friday.

Kodok is under control of Olony’s forces that also took control of Malakal.

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