Three people have been killed and six others wounded during clashes between armed cattle keepers and members of the organized forces in Ruweng Administrative Area.
Local authorities said Friday’s attack, which was allegedly provoked by the herdsmen, has disrupted oil production in the area.
The incident happened at the Ofra army barrack situated about 26 kilometers, West of Panriang town.
Ruweng Information Minister James Arop Ayuel said the youth drove their cattle through the barrack and defied orders to sidetrack the army facility.
This led to fierce exchange of gunfire that also wounded six other people. The casualties have not been identified.
“They drove their cattle into the army barrack and the army was not happy, they were asking them why should you do this, this is a place designated for the army why do you pass your cattle from here?” Arop told Eye Radio on phone.
“Then most of these armed youths reacted negatively. They began shooting at the army and when the army was trying to arrest them, some of them they run away.”
Minister said the situation has been tense although they managed to restore order.
He strongly warns any insecurities around the oilfields.
“You know, oilfields are vital areas for the government of South Sudan. It generates a lot of revenue for the government and if people fight around the oilfields, then the oil operators will run away.”
“For example, today (Saturday), they are not operating in the areas of Wuzin and Alnar because those ones are foreigners; the Chinese and the Malaysians. They don’t want to hear a gunshot.”
The minister appeals to the national government to ensure that cattle keepers are moved away from the oil fields.
“My appeal to the government of national unity is for the oilfields to be left for the army and all the cattle keepers kept away from the area.”
Ruweng oilfields are operated by Greater Pioneer Operation Company or GPOC.
According to the International Monetary Fund, South Sudan’s economic prospects continue to be wedded to its oil, which accounts for almost all its exports and 90% of government revenue.
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Published Friday, March 1, 2024
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