Fatal attacks claim 32 lives in disputed Abyei region

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At least 32 people, including a UN peacekeeper, were killed Sunday following heavy fighting in the disputed Abyei administrative region, an area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, authorities said.

Local media reported that the civilians and a Ghanaian soldier serving with a peacekeeping force died when unknown gunmen attacked two villages in southern Abyei.

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A South Sudanese radio station, Eye Radio Juba, quoted Abyei information minister Bolis Kuoch as saying 32 people were killed and 20 others wounded, “but the clashes have now stopped, and the situation calmed down.”

Inter-communal and cross-border clashes have escalated since South Sudan deployed its troops to the contested territory in March.

The peacekeeping mission there condemned the troop deployment, saying it would create “untold suffering and humanitarian concerns” for civilians.

International solders were sent to Aleel and Rum Ameer counties as part of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei to help quell the growing conflict.

The Security Council last week voted unanimously to renew UNIFSA’s mandate until Nov. 15, 2024.

Earlier this month, the UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh warned that the “unprecedented” 7-month war between Sudan’s army and a rival paramilitary force was getting closer to South Sudan and the Abyei region.

The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in mid-April, displacing millions of people within Sudan and into neighboring countries Sudan and South Sudan have disagreed over control of the oil-rich Abyei region since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after a 2005 peace deal ended decades of civil war between Sudan’s north and south.

The deal called for both sides to settle the final status of Abyei through negotiations, but it has never been implemented.

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