AFRICA. / 24 January 2020, 10:22am / Mel Frykberg
Johannesburg – At least 32 people have been killed, 15 abducted and dozens wounded after several attacks on a village in Kolom in the disputed town of Abyei in the South Sudan border area, the UN peacekeeping mission UNISFA said on Friday.
“Our mission in Abyei has increased protection of civilian efforts after attacks that killed at least 32 people. The mission apprehended five armed group members and stepped up patrols and engagement at community levels,” UNISFA said in a post on Twitter.
Local elders confirmed the deaths after armed nomadic herders from the Misseriya tribe carried out the attack on the rural Dinka Ngok village, burning down 19 houses during the violence.
UNISFA spokesman Daniel Adekera told the Sudan Tribune that Thursday’s violence followed clashes between the two sides on Monday and Wednesday, which had already claimed 22 lives.
The cause of the violence is unknown but conflict in the area has revolved around cattle rustling with the absence of police and administrative structures in Abyei exacerbating the situation.
The Dinka Ngok tribe has long called for a referendum to be held on the future of the area, which is currently part of Sudan, so that it can join South Sudan.
South Sudan ceded from Sudan in 2011 and this has been a cause of friction between the two countries due to the political and security vacuum in the 10,500 km area border area despite it previously being seen as a model of coexistence.
Due to the ongoing friction, UNISFA deployed troops to the area to contain the situation and prevent any escalation as armed men from both sides converged on Kolom.
“UNISFA would like to reiterate that any presence of armed groups within the Abyei box other than its own troops is viewed by the mission as a violation of its mandate and will not hesitate to place responsibility on those engaged in such violations,” Adekera said.
African News Agency (ANA)