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news - 16 Killed in Clashes in South Sudan Oil Region: Army

october 5th, 2009

"Sixteen people were killed and several wounded in clashes in south Sudan between forces loyal to an ex-warlord and an oil-rich state governor's guards, military sources said on Saturday.

Friday's fighting in Unity State resulted from a 'misunderstanding between Paulino Matip's guards and the guards of the governor' in the state capital of Bentiu, south Sudan information minister Paul Mayom told reporters.

Unity State, which provides an estimated 80 percent of all the oil currently drilled in the south, was the scene of persistent attacks in early 2008 between the Sudanese military and the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA), the former southern rebel force that is now the southern Sudanese army.

Matip, a notoriously effective northern commander during the 1983-2005 civil war that claimed some two million lives, was integrated into the new southern Sudanese armed forces after the fighting ended.

He is now deputy commander-in-chief of southern Sudanese forces and has a loyal following of troops.

A military official said Friday's fighting involved SPLA troops guarding Matip's offices and those protecting the governor's building.

A senior SPLA source, speaking on Saturday on condition of anonymity, said 12 Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) members were killed and 17 wounded, and that four civilians died and four more were wounded.

Officials in Unity State earlier put the total number of dead at 12."

MORE: "16 killed in clashes in south Sudan oil region: army" (AFP)

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