Fresh communal clashes leave 42 killed in Abyei               

At least 42 people have been confirmed killed including a UN peacekeeper during Saturday clashes in Abyei Administrative Area

By Benjamin Takpiny

At least 42 people have been confirmed killed including a UN peacekeeper during Saturday clashes in Abyei Administrative Area.

 Dr. Rou Manyiel Rou, the Secretary General of Abyei Special Administrative Area condemned the attack by armed  youth that left 42 killed and 35 people wounded.

“Twic armed youth in collaboration with the Nuer spiritual leader Gai Machiek attacked Nyinkuac market in Abyei town where 16 innocent civilians were killed and 35 others wounded,” Manyiel in a statement seen by The Dawn.

He disclosed that another 13 internally displaced persons from Abyei were killed when armed Twic youth ambushed a vehicle escorting them from Biemnhom to Rumamer area of Abyei in Kolngolnyang.

Manyiel noted that 8 people were also killed on the same day in Kadhian and another five people were killed in Majbuong and Juoljok respectively.

 He said that most of the dead are women and children.

“As we face these barbaric coordinated attacks, the government of Abyei Special Administrative Area condemns in the strongest terms possible the attempt by Twic and their allied armed youth to obstruct the orders of the President as solution to the conflict between Ngok and Twic,” Manyeil said.

He called on the government of South Sudan to hold those responsible for the killings accountable for their crimes.

Manyiel said that relevant security organs should speed up the deployment of the neutral forces along the border between Twic County and Abyei Administrative Area.

Simon Aguek Chan, the Commissioner of Twic County of Warrap State denied the involvement of Twic youth in the attack on Ngok Dinka.

“The fighting erupted within Abyei town between Abyei armed youth and Nuer armed youth who are staying within Abyei and we don’t have people there, our youth cannot reach there, all those allegations leveled against Twic youth are not true,” Aguek said.

He said that Abyei armed youth have disagreement with Nuer armed who have been staying with them in Abyei.

Aguek urged the public to disregard all those allegations leveled against Twic youth by the Abyei authorities.

“These  Nuer armed  youth who fought with Abyei youth on Saturday are the ones who have been killing people in Twic, they have heavy machine guns and I believe they are from organized forces because the weapons they have are not supposed to be for civilians,” he disclosed.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) condemned the series of armed attacks that took place on 27 January 2024 in the Abyei Area, which resulted in civilian casualties as well as the death of a United Nations peacekeeper from Ghana.

“The Mission confirms that the inter-communal clashes that took place in the Nyinkuac, Majbong and Khadian areas led to casualties and the evacuation of civilians to UNISFA bases to provide safety for those caught up in the violence. Efforts are underway to verify the number of those killed, injured, and displaced in the violence” UNISFA said in a statement.

It added that the UNISFA base in Agok came under attack by an armed group that was repelled by the peacekeepers.

 “The mission strongly condemns the violence and extends its profound condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives as well as the fallen peacekeeper, who gave his life in the service of the people of Abyei. The mission also wishes all of those who were injured in the attacks a speedy and full recovery,” it said.

UNISFA reaffirmed its commitment to carrying out its mandate to provide proactive and robust protection of civilians as well as support to all efforts to secure peace and security in its area of operations.

 The Mission called for a swift and thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to these attacks and to ensure that all perpetrators are held accountable.

In November 2023, 32 people were killed in deadly communal fighting between the two communities.

The two communities have been contesting for years the ownership of a strip of land in the Aneet border area, which separates the two communities.

Abyei Administrative Area remains a contested area, between South Sudan and its neighbor Sudan which is currently mired in conflict since April 15

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