Armed rebels control oilfields

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Japanese soldiers of the UN Mission in South Sudan on assist civilians at their compound in Juba.

  Juba- Armed rebels were said to be in control of some of South Sudan’s oilfields on Friday, raising questions of how long the country’s oil will flow and whether Sudan could enter the conflict.

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir implored his country to turn away from ethnic violence and met Friday with foreign ministers from neighbouring states, including Kenya and Ethiopia, who flew into Juba, the capital, to help calm tensions after a week of ethnic strife that is estimated to have killed hundreds.

The United Nations expressed alarm at an attack by “approximately 2,000 armed elements” on a UN base in Jonglei state that killed two peacekeepers from India. An unspecified number of civilians seeking refuge there Thursday were also killed.

The United Nations said Friday that 35,000 people continue to seek refuge at UN bases in three locations across the country, including 20,000 at two bases in the capital.

Fighting continued to spread on Friday in Jonglei and Unity state, an oil area, as armed groups opposed to the nation’s military emerged, said a South Sudan expert communicating with combatants and UN officials in strife torn regions outside the capital. Armed opposition groups appeared to be in control of some oilfields in Unity state, she said. South Sudan’s oilfields have historically been a target for rebel movements.

The U.S. Embassy had a fifth emergency evacuation flight on Friday to move Americans out of the country. British, German and Dutch planes were also to fly out. Hundreds of foreigners, including aid workers, have left South Sudan this week at the urging of embassies concerned about the possibility of out-of-control violence.

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