In March, fighting between the SPLA and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) erupted around Heglig/Panthou, a disputed oil-producing area considered part of Sudan's Southern Kordofan State, but also claimed by South Sudan's Unity State. On 10 April, South Sudan captured and occupied Heglig/Panthou, and on 15 April fighting spread along the border between the two countries, at Kiir Adem in Northern Bahr El Ghazal. South Sudan ordered the unconditional withdrawal of SPLA troops from the Heglig/Panthou oil field on 20 April, in order to create an environment for talks with Sudan. Indiscriminate aerial bombardments, reportedly by the SAF, occurred in South Sudan's Unity and Northern Bahr El Ghazal states in April and May and in Northern Bahr El Ghazal State in November.
In Jonglei State, a series of attacks, primarily between the two ethnic groups Lou Nuer and Murle, continued to occur. From 23 December 2011 to February 2012, the UN estimated that 888 people were killed. Over 170,000 were internally displaced between late December 2011 and April 2012, and women and children were abducted, property looted and large numbers of cattle were stolen. On 22 August clashes were reported in Pibor County between the SPLA and a militia group led by a former SPLA general, David Yau Yau. On 27 August, at least 24 soldiers were killed in an ambush, reportedly by the same militia group. Due to the threat of attacks by David Yau Yau's group, the SPLA sent additional troops and UNMISS sent additional peacekeepers to Pibor County. In August and September, two of three Médecins Sans Frontières clinics were looted, denying the population in Pibor County access to health care.
Intermittent cattle raids continued in the triangle between Lakes, Unity and Warrap states, across state borders. In late January and early February, fighting occurred on the border between Unity and Warrap states, reportedly due to the failure of government officials to follow through their undertaking to return cattle looted during an attack in September 2011. Over 70 people were reportedly killed during the attacks. In July, fighting between two Dinka sub-clans erupted in Lakes State, with 20 people killed and 20 injured. Further fighting in Lakes State occurred in November with a reported 12 people killed and 20 injured.
Freedom of expression
The operating environment for national and international media workers remained challenging. Security forces harassed national and international media workers, arbitrarily detained journalists and radio presenters, and confiscated equipment. Threats to shut down radio shows deemed critical of the government were also issued by the authorities, and South Sudan's only daily newspaper faced obstacles to its continued publication.