South Sudan government troops have lost control of the key oil-rich town of Bentiu to rebels amid increasing concern that the volatile situation could plunge the landlocked middle African country into an all-out ethnic civil war.

The impoverished African nation gets 99% of its revenue from oil and Unity State, upon which Bentiu is located, is one of the important regions with numerous oil wells.

The two year old country of South Sudan has been reeling under intensified violence in the past few days between the Dinka, who are loyal to President Salva Kiir, and Nuer supporters of the ousted vice-president Riek Machar. President Kiir has accused Mr Machar of attempting a coup.

Two Indian peacekeepers and at least 11 civilians were killed in an attack on a UN compound in Akobo, Jonglei, on Thursday. Four US service personal were wounded whilst attempting an evacuation, prompting US president Barack Obama to say further action might be taken to guarantee the safety of US citizens.

The UN mission in South Sudan has urged rival political leaders to agree a truce and open negotiations in order to prevent a full blown ethnic conflict from developing.

Written and presented by Alfred Joyner