South Sudanese troops have seized a rebel stronghold in the oil-rich northeast, the latest territorial gain for President Salva Kiir’s forces in the African country’s more than three-year civil war.
Rebel spokesman William Gathjiath Deng said soldiers overran the town of Pagak on Sunday afternoon, compelling a “huge number” of civilians to flee to Ethiopia’s nearby border.
Fighting have continued in neighboring towns, including Maiwut, about 25 kilometers away, he said.
A spokesman for South Sudan’s vice president, Dickson Gatlauk said that government forces entered Pagak after the insurgents retreated.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the country said it didn’t have any any information on people fleeing.
Tens of thousands of people have died and more than 3.5 million have been forced from their homes since conflict began in 2013 in the world’s newest nation, while government forces and rebels have been accused of atrocities.
Most of the fighting in the east African nation was in the Upper Nile region, which include Pagak, violence has flared in the southeast since the collapse of a power-sharing deal between Kiir and vice president-turned rebel leader Riek Machar last year.