Juba (Agencies): At least 50 people were killed in fighting in south Sudan's Upper Nile state, more than double an earlier toll for the revolt by militiamen refusing to turn in heavy weapons, officials said on Sunday.

Thirty people died in the remote but key oil-producing areas of Paloich and Melut, following clashes in the state capital Malakal where the violence broke out.

"There were 11 people who died in Paloich, and 19 in Melut, as well as many casualties," said Akuoc Teng Diing, Melut's county commissioner. "The situation was very bad but it is now under control, there is no more fighting there."

Those casualties add to the 20 people who were killed in Thursday-Friday fighting in Malakal that southern Sudan's army reported on Saturday.

The fighting around Malakal airport was sparked when loyalists of Gabriel Tang, who commanded a pro-Khartoum militia during the 1983-2005 civil war between north and south, refused to surrender their heavy weaponry.

The former militiamen are deployed alongside regular northern troops in so-called Joint Integrated Units (JIUs) with southern forces that patrol the town under the 2005 peace
agreement which ended the civil war.

New capital for new nation
As the region gears up for expected full independence in July, South Sudan is considering moving its capital to a new site, the information minister said on Sunday.

"A ministerial committee will look into the possibilities, to see the best option," said Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

"It is wanted to have a capital that befits the new nation to be."

The grossly underdeveloped region was left in ruins by decades of war with the north, and voted overwhelmingly for secession in last month's referendum on full independence that is expected to split Africa's largest country in two.

Reaction to the new suggestion on the streets of the current capital Juba -- a  rapidly growing ramshackle town on the banks of the White Nile river -- was mixed.

"It is good to have dreams, to make a new capital for our new nation," said shopkeeper Jackson Hussein. "I think it would be good to have a capital right in the centre of the country."

Last August, housing ministry officials unveiled extraordinary proposals to develop the south's ten state capitals in animal shapes.

Juba was suggested to be designed in the shape of a rhinoceros, while Wau, state capital of Western Bahr al-Ghazal was unveiled as a giraffe.