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By Carl Odera and Andrew Green JUBA (Reuters) - Government forces battled rebels to regain control of a flashpoint South Sudanese town on Thursday, the fifth day of a conflict that has deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation and threatened its vital oil production. The conflict, which has so far killed up to 500 people, has alarmed South Sudan's neighbours and prompted African nations to send in a team of mediators. The fighting that erupted around the capital on Sunday night has quickly spread, pitting loyalists of the former Vice President Riek Machar, a Nuer, against President Salva Kiir, from the majority Dinka clan. Thousands of people have sought refuge on U.N. bases, including about 200 oil workers in the main crude-producing region that has till now appeared to escape any clashes.