At least 25 dead in S Sudan oil state battle

Juba - An outbreak of fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan's oil-producing north left at least 25 people dead, a state official said on Tuesday.

The clash between rebels loyal to exiled former deputy president Riek Machar and government forces occurred early on Monday in Nhialdiu, a village close to the town of Bentiu which has changed hands repeatedly since civil war began nearly four years ago.

"The number of the bodies that were found on the ground were 25," said Lam Tungwar, information minister for Northern Liech State, adding the rebel attack was "repulsed".

Lam Paul Gabriel, a spokesperson for the SPLA-IO rebels confirmed the clash claiming "a successful operation" in which "the gallant SPLA-IO forces took control of Nhialdiu", killed 19 government soldiers and seized dozens of weapons.

Tungwar said most of the dead were civilians.

Tens of thousands have been killed and millions uprooted since 2013 during a conflict characterised by rape, ethnic massacres and attacks on civilians.

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