Juba — Community leaders from the contested oil-producing Abyei region have accused neighbouring Sudan of allegedly backing an attack, in which its armed nomads killed 18 people last week.
The paramount chief of Abyei warned on Saturday that the incident, if not contained, could create more instability in the disputed oil region.
"There have been attempts by the Misseriya to go south of Abyei with their cattle for grazing and water. The people said, yes, there is no problem with their coming. Let them come but their coming should be preceded by some meetings and agreements before gaining access to the area. But the Misseriya do not want this," Bulabek Deng Kuol told Sudan Tribune.
"They want to just come and move in the area with their weapons. Our people rejected this," Kuol further said.
The Abyei youth chairperson, in a separate interview, also confirmed the attack, stressing the existence of skirmishes on a daily basis between the two rival tribes in the region.
"There have been skirmishes almost on daily basis but still our people in the north of Abyei are moving. They not stopped. The United Nations Security Forces for Abyei has been taking notes of these violations", Nyan Chol told Sudan Tribune Saturday from Agok, an area south of Abyei town.
John Ajang, an official with the local administration, confirmed that 18 people were killed and two others injured during the clash in the contested region.
"We lost more than 18 people inside the territory of the Dinka Ngok area. The attack took place within the area identified by the July 22, 2009, permanent court ruling as belonging to the Nine Ngok Dinka," Ajang said.
"Two others were wounded. They are now still seeking treatment in the local clinics," he added.
The official, however, said a security committee at the level of payam and boma had been established to regularly report to authorities in the area for further submission to higher authorities and all the stakeholders, including the United Nations peacekeeping force in the disputed area (UNISFA).
Arop Madut Arop, a national lawmaker from Abyei, said such belligerent acts would jeopardise the full implementation of the cooperation agreement between the two Sudans.
"The international community should come out and tell the government of Sudan to control the Misseriya who wants to take advantage of the current situation in the south," Arop exclusively told Sudan Tribune by phone.
"The United Nations for Interim Security force for Abyei should take full responsibility of the security and safety of the people of Abyei as provided for in the status of force agreement to provide protection to the civil population in the area," he added.
Although Sudan Tribune was unable to independently to verify these claims, while UNISFA has not yet issued any statement confirming or denying the incident, despite numerous request for reactions on the matter.
In May last year, the UN Security Council (UNSC) voted unanimously to increase the strength of its Ethiopian peacekeeping force in Abyei to 5, 326 troops from 4, 200.