"In the fighting in Unity state, we have lost 26 SPLA soldiers and at least 70 rebels have been killed, probably more," Malaak Ayuen, spokesman of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), said in statement cited by Reuters on Tuesday, April 26.
Forces loyal to two renegade army commanders fought SPLA in Jonglei and Unity states.
At least 165 people have been killed in the fighting over the past week.
Rebel leader Peter Gadet says his forces are fighting to overthrow the southern government, which they say is corrupt and neglects tribal minorities and rural communities.
"We are still on the offensive, we are defeating the SPLA in Unity state," Gadet's spokesman Bol Gatkouth told Reuters.
"We have captured 19 SPLA soldiers and killed many. We don't know how many exactly but it is a very big number."
Southern Sudanese have overwhelmingly voted for the secession of the oil-rich region from the north in a referendum last January.
The referendum was guaranteed under a 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of civil war between the Muslim-dominated north and the Christian-majority south which left over two million people dead.
In July, a new nation of
But the largely Christian region has seen a surge in rebel attacks in recent months.
The South Sudanese government vowed attacks against renegade troops, in a move that signals more violence in the region.
“We don’t want wars on our borders,” said SPLA spokesman Ayuen.
"For sure, we will be able to defend south
International organizations have warned against more violence in the war-torn region.
“If the southern
The New York-based group said last week that human rights abuses had been committed by both the southern Sudanese government and the rebels in recent fighting.
Analysts warn the oil-producing south could become a failed state after secession and destabilize the whole region.
Oil production in Unity state was also disrupted by the violence, according to state officials, who said they first expelled then re-admitted northern Sudanese workers to oil areas, underscoring the threat insecurity poses to the economy.
Some 75 per cent of Sudan's 500,000 barrels per day oil production comes from the south but the refineries and port are in the north.
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