South Sudan Beefs Up Security at Oilfield After Clash Kills 56

South Sudan’s army is deploying more forces around the country’s largest still operational oilfield after at least 56 people died in fresh fighting, Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said.

Government troops clashed with rebels Oct. 14 near Malakal town in the African nation’s oil-rich Eastern Nile state, Juuk said Monday by phone from the capital, Juba. He said the violence in the country’s northeast was instigated by a militia leader previously affiliated with former vice president and rebel chief Riek Machar. There was no independent confirmation of the fighting.

“Small pockets” of insurgents are moving toward the Paloch oilfield and could be planning to attack production facilities, according to Juuk. Similar violence in the north claimed at least 60 lives in the past week, the army said Friday.

A civil war that began in South Sudan in December 2013 has left tens of thousands of people dead, with a peace agreement that saw Machar join a transitional government thrown into turmoil in July, when renewed violence forced him from the capital. Crude output in a country with sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest estimated reserves, has fallen to about 130,000 barrels per day since the conflict began.

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