27 February 2011

Sudan: Abyei Clashes Leave 10 Dead

Wau — At least 10 people have been killed and several others injured in an armed confrontation between the Arab-nomadic Misseriya tribe and local police in the oil-producing region of Abyei on Sunday.

The attacks occured days after the delegation of Misseriya tribe leaders visited Abyei with an attempt to pay compensatory money for 12 Dinka Ngok who were killed by members of the Misseriya in the previous attacks. The compensation was part of an agreement between the Dinka Ngok and Misseriya in Kadugli earlier this year.

The leaders, however, returned without the compensation money following discussions, which realized the groups were not part of the Kadugli Agreement.

Speaking to Sudan Tribune from Abyei, Acuil Akol Miyen, head of finance in the Abyei administration, said armed groups identified as members of the Misseriya tribe from Awalad "Mozakina" in collaboration with pro-government militias along the north-South border, staged an attack in Todach at around 4:00am and resumed at 11:30am on Sunday.

Ten people were killed a several others injured according to the official.

"The heavily armed members of the Misseriya tribe from Awalad Mozakina in collaboration with pro government militias operating along the border staged an attack on unarmed civilian settlements and on police post at Todach at 4:00 and 11:30am, killing number of people and injuries several others", said Acuil, declining to give specific number of people killed and those who sustained injures.

"This happens after Ahmed Dudu, the leader of the Mozakina clan, a section within the Messiriya tribe ordered pulling out of cattle allowed by the Abyei administration in unison agreement with local chiefs as part of the Kadugli agreement to access water and grazing areas", he explained.

Acuil said the groups were sighted in three different places near where the incident took. He said that he believed they were preparing for further attacks.

"I am told these groups were seen regrouping themselves for possible attacks probably this evening or tomorrow in three different locations along where the fighting took place. They were seen in Difra, Dira and Goli regrouping themselves for possible attacks", he said.

The official said there were casualties but do not have clear information of how many people were killed or wounded in the attack because the fighting was still going on when he last talked to the people on the ground.

"It is possible some people may have been killed during these clashes but still we do not have clear information at the moment", he said.

Miyen Alor Kuol, another official in the area, in Juba, confirmed the attack and accused the Khartoum-based government of sponsoring sporadic attacks and killings by arming Misseriya and the groups he said were part of the Popular Defense Forces along the north-south border.

Abyei was due to hold a referendum to decide whether in would remain in the north or be transferred to the south. The poll was supposed to be in tandem with the South's own plebiscite, in which it chose to secede from the north. However, the poll was delayed as the ruling parties of north and south could not agree over whether the Misseriya should be allowed to take part.

"This is precisely the work of the government in the north. They are doing it for political pressure on the upcoming talks so that we concede. They sent these groups to attack our people as part of strategies and plans to depopulate the area and to tell the international community that the so called Misseriya are part of Abyei and that they deserve representation in the area during the upcoming talks scheduled to resume in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, next Tuesday. Precisely this is the message they are trying to send", said Kuol

"They have tried to include Messiriya through several proposals including sharing them in our administration and giving the northern parts of Abyei which contains oils without success. Our people have compromised a lot and I do not think they are ready to compromise even an inch this time, come what may", said Kuol.

The senior member of the SPLM in the area said a total of 10 people have been killed in the clashes.

"The fighting took place this morning at 4:00am and resumed at 11:30am today. And it was still going on when I last inquired from our people on the ground this afternoon. They did not give us full detail but the information we have indicates that 10 people were killed and unconfirmed number of people are said to have sustained injuries on both sides", said Kuol.

Hassan Musa, the leader from another group of Misseriya called Awalad "Umaran", in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune from Muglad confirmed the attack to had taken place.

"Yes, I have just been told by Amir Ahmed Dudu now that armed Dinka Ngok supported by the SPLA camouflaged [as] police in Dira, Goli, Todach, Difra and in the surrounding areas have since last week started putting unnecessary check points and stopping herders from taking their cattle further south".

The Misseriya enter Abyei for a few months each year to find grazing land and water for their cattle.

"This is a clear violation of our rights and it is unacceptable. We have been saying that SPLA forces have been secretly deployed in the area in form of police to block movement of our people with cattle to access water and grazing areas in the south. Members of the Dinka Ngok have equally been armed by the SPLA and opened training camps for them to fight us. This is unacceptable", said Musa.

Colonel Phillip Aguer Panyang, Spokesman of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune from Juba said he had heard of the clashes but denied presence of the SPLA forces in Abyei or training people there.

"There are only joint integrated units there. We do not have SPLA forces in Abyei. No single SPLA soldier is in Abyei as far as I know. Our forces are in the south of Abyei as per the Abyei Road Map. Those in Abyei are joint police and joint military personnel representing both the Sudan armed forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army," explained Aguer, declining commenting on the attack.

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