UN says at least 19 killed in tribal clashes in Abyei region

BY SAMY MAGDY

CAIRO (AP) — At least 19 people were killed in an attack Wednesday in the disputed Abyei region on the Sudan-South Sudan border, a U.N. peacekeeping mission said.

The mission, known as UNISFA, said in a statement that armed men allegedly from the Sudan-allied Misseriya attacked the Dinka village of Kolom, about 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) northwest of Abyei.

UNISFA said the attack wounded at least two dozen others and that three children were reportedly missing. At least 19 houses were set ablaze, it said.

UNIFSA It has been in Abyei since 2011.

Kuol Alor Kuol, the chief administrator of the Abyei area, told local media at least 29 people were killed in the attack.

“This morning at around 7:10, gunmen came and attacked Kolom area. The attackers killed 29 civilians including 9 children,” Radio Tamazuj quoted Kuol as saying.

Footage circulated online showed burned properties to the ground, as well as graphic images of burned bodies and wounded people with blood-stained clothes.

Sudan’s transitional government condemned the attack, and called on the UNISFA to contain the situation and provide protection to civilians in the region.

A decades-long civil war between Sudan’s north and south ended with a 2005 peace deal that allowed for South Sudan to become independent following a referendum in 2011.

The pact also required both sides to work out the final status of Abyei, but it’s still unresolved. The region’s majority Ngok Dinka people are believed to be in favor of joining South Sudan.

The Abyei region is rich in oil, one of the reasons both Sudans are reluctant to give it up.