By Dow Jones Business News,
January 10, 2014, 01:45:00 PM EDT
JUBA -- South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar confirmed Friday that rebel forces had lost control of the key northern
oil town of Bentiu, but vowed his fighters would continue their battle against the government.
"We withdrew from Bentiu, but it was to avoid fighting in the streets and save civilian lives. We fight on, we will
continue the battle," Mr. Machar told AFP by satellite telephone from an undisclosed location in the country.
He nevertheless said the rebel side would remain engaged in peace talks that are taking place in neighboring Ethiopia.
"Yes, we are committed," he said, without giving any indication if he was willing to agree to an immediate and
Speaking to reporters in Addis Ababa, a rebel military spokesman described the loss of Bentiu as a "temporary setback"
"Our forces made a tactical withdrawal to avoid civilian casualties," Lul Ruai Koang said.
"The government does not have the capacity to defeat us militarily," he added, accusing the South Sudanese government
of "bringing in mercenaries" from neighboring Uganda and the Darfur region of Sudan.
He also said rebels still controlled Unity State's oil infrastructure outside of Bentiu.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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