South Sudanese troops are fighting
to stop rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar taking
control of the major oil producing Upper Nile state capital,
Malakal, the presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.
"There has been heavy fighting between the forces loyal to
Dr Riek Machar and the government forces (in Malakal),"
presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny told Reuters by phone.
The rebels first attacked Malakal on Tuesday morning, he said.
Ateny said Upper Nile
oil fields, which produce about
200,000 barrels of oil per day, were far away from Malakal and
under government control. "The oil fields are safe," he said.