February 24, 2014[Maban] — Clashes broke out this morning at Guel Guk, south of oil fields in Upper Nile State, according to the Commissioner of Maban County James Basha.
Guel Guk is about 30 kilometres south of Adar, one of South Sudan’s main oil fields. The field was ordered evacuated by the state government last week, but a presidency official later said on Saturday said the directive was reversed.
“This morning problems started in an area called Guel Guk between the rebels belonging to the forces of Riek Machar and our forces SPLA. The problems started from 5:00 a.m. until now they may be continuing,” Basha told Radio Tamazuj.
The commissioner added that expected the arrival of a large number of displaced from these areas into Maban County, saying Guel Guk was not more than 20 kilometres from the county border. A number of people already arrived from the Paloich area, he added.
Sounds of artillery or heavy guns were also heard from the Melut area this morning, according to a church leader living among the displaced in the town. He said that he heard the artillery in the distance but could not tell where it was coming from.
Also he noted that huge numbers of people have arrived in Melut from farther south, with many continuing north. He said most people came on foot, with some coming by car. For those moving north, they were not able to move by boat because the river was not considered safe enough.
Melut is directly west of Paloich, the oil processing facility which opposition forces last week said they would target after capturing the state capital Malakal to the south. The town remains under government control, with some SPLA present in the area. Most of the people have little or no food, according to the churchman, who said that aid workers of the World Food Programme and other organizations had evacuated.
Elsewhere in the state, Fashoda County was described as calm, though the area is hosting a huge number of displaced people from Malakal, some of whom are heading north to Sudan. Albino Nyikayo Dak, who worked for Warrior Security before the outbreak of the conflict, told Radio Tamazuj that forces loyal to Johnson Ulony are helping secure the county.
Dak added that lorries are leaving daily carrying people to Sudan as refugees. Three vehicles left this morning, two yesterday and five the day before, he explained. The price of a ticket to Kosti via Abu Jubeiha is 250 pounds.
Meanwhile, in the state’s northernmost city, Renk, shooting was heard from the west across the river this morning. The county on the opposite bank known as Manyo has been contested since the start of the conflict in December, though Renk County remains under government control.
For more: Radio Tamazuj