At least 23 militia fighters were killed when they attacked the capital of south Sudan's oil-producing Upper Nile state on Saturday and clashed with southern soldiers, the military said.
The pre-dawn attack on Malakal, one of the south's main settlements, marked an escalation in clashes between the south's army and militias which has aroused fears over the stability of the region in the countdown to its secession, due on July 9.
"Twenty three bodies have been collected from the attackers. One was taken alive," said southern army spokesman Philip Aguer. He said civilians also died in the attack but could not confirm a number.