Wed Jan 15, 2014 9:23AM
South Sudanese people fleeing violence in Bor on a boat on January 9, 2014.
South Sudanese people fleeing violence in Bor on a boat on January 9, 2014.

In South Sudan, violent clashes are “ongoing” in the Upper Nile state’s key town of Malakal, army officials say.

"There is heavy fighting in Malakal," said South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer on Wednesday, adding that the fight for the northereastern oil town was “not over yet.”

This comes after rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Kong claimed the rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar had “recaptured” the town.

In recent days, Malakal, the capital of the oil-rich state of Upper Nile, has been the scene of heavy fighting as rebel fighters attempted to gain control of the town.

On January 14, more than 200 people lost their lives in a ferry accident as they were trying to escape violence in Malakal.

Meanwhile, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has announced a state of emergency in Unity and Jonglei states.

Violent clashes erupted in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, after Kiir accused Machar of attempting to stage a coup. The former vice president dismissed the accusations, saying that the president was taking advantage of a clash between members of the military as an excuse to carry out a purge.

According to the United Nations, more than 1,000 people have lost their lives in the wave of violence while another 400,000 others have become displaced.

UN aid chief for South Sudan Toby Lanzer says the number of people seeking shelters have mounted from 10,000 to 19,000, following a “new fighting in and around Malakal.”