JUBA, South Sudan, Dec. 20 (UPI) -- The acting governor of oil-rich Unity state in South Sudan said at least 16 people were killed during clashes there between oil workers and rival tribes.
Acting Unity state Gov. Mabaek Lang De Mading said hundreds of people have fled the area to U.N. safe havens and more than a dozen were killed after clashes erupted in the oil-rich state, the independent Sudan Tribune reports.
The Sudanese newspaper said oil workers used spears, knives and sticks during the melee with tribal groups.
Conflict erupted in South Sudan this week when Salva Kiir, the country's president, accused former Vice President Riek Machar of staging a coup.
South Sudan is the world's newest nation. When it gained independence from Sudan in 2011, the landlocked country gained control over much of the oil producing regions but Sudan maintained its grip on export infrastructure.
Chinese government spokesman Hua Chunying said Thursday the Chinese government was concerned by the crisis, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Chinese oil companies have an interest in some of the oil developments in South Sudan.
A September profile of the region from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states most of the oil produced from the region comes from fields straddling the poorly defined border separating Sudan from South Sudan.