Rebel forces on the run, says Minister

South Sudan’s Army stormed the rebel-held town of Bor on Tuesday, sending insurgents fleeing nearly a week after they captured the state capital of Jonglei, Information Minister Michael Makwei told AFP.

“The Army captured Bor around sunset and the rebel forces are now on the run... We are back in control,” Mr. Makwei said. “This is the gift of the government of South Sudan to the people.” However, while claiming the Army was now back in full control, Mr. Makwei also said that “shooting continued,” without giving further details.

Bor’s capture, apparently without major resistance by the rebels, lifts nearly a week-long siege of the town, where some 17,000 civilians fled into the overstretched United Nations peacekeeping compound for protection, severely stretching limited food and supplies. UN peacekeepers had spent days bolstering fortifications ahead of the Army assault.

While Bor’s recapture is a significant victory for the government, rebel forces still control vast swathes of Jonglei state, and still hold the town of Bentiu, capital of the crucial oil-producing Unity state.

Rebels were also reportedly beaten back from the town of Malakal, capital of the oil-rich Upper Nile state. — AFP

Atul Aneja reports from Dubai:

The fighting has threatened to turn into a full-blown civil war as well as bring foreign intervention in the impoverished African nation. Sections of the media are reporting an intensifying ethnic conflict between Dinka and Nuer groups, evoking horrifying memories of earlier inter-ethnic bloodletting in Africa, which subsequently became justifications for “humanitarian interventions” by foreign powers.

A report from Geneva quoted the UN as saying that around 75 bodies had been discovered in a mass grave in rebel-held Bentiu, following a surge of violence in the world’s youngest nation.

President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar know that control over oil, which contributes 98 per cent of South Sudan’s revenue, will determine their own fate and that of the country’s.