KHARTOUM, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- A South Sudan army spokesman on Wednesday said clashes were still ongoing between government forces and defected troops loyal to former Vice-President Riek Machar in Malakal, capital of oil-rich Upper Nile state, while some reports said the city fell in the hands of the defectors.
"There are continued battles between the army and Machar's group, but we do not have details on the developments there," Philip Aguer, the spokesman, told Xinhua by phone from Juba.
"We are waiting for reports from the field on the results of the clashes which erupted after military groups belonging to Machar targeted the military command in Malakal with the aim to take control of it," he added.
Meanwhile, press reports earlier said Machar's forces have seized Malakal, the capital city of the oil-rich Upper Nile state, which produces most of South Sudan's oil.
Paris-based Sudan Tribune website reported several residents in Malakal town to have said: "Heavy fighting erupted on Tuesday morning and by evening the rebels had taken full control of the city."
Sudan Tribune further reported a source close to the rebels to have confirmed the capture of Malakal by Machar's forces.
Earlier, South Sudan News Agency reported that Governor of Upper Nile Simon Kun Puoch, together with some other local officials, had taken refuge in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) compound.
Machar's forces are in control of Bantio, capital of Unity state, whose oil production has completely halted since the government forces lost it. If the press reports on falling of Malakal are true, the government then have lost all the oil production areas in the country.
South Sudan's daily oil production amounts to 245,000 barrels, 45,000 of them in Unity state and 200,000 in Upper Nile State.
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