2 March 2014

South Sudan: Fresh Clashes Erupt Between Misseriya and Dinka Ngok in Abyei

Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Mud and straw tukuls have been reduced to rubble in Abyei .

Khartoum — Fierce clashes between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka tribes have erupted on Saturday in the contested Abyei area amid conflicting reports on the numbers of victims.

Reports from the disputed area said 13 Misseirya were killed and 30 others injured while other reports spoke of 8 deaths among the Sudanese tribe.

South Sudan's ambassador to Khartoum, Mayan Dut Waal, said in a press conference on Sunday that the ongoing developments in Abyei are nothing but clashes between residents of Abyei from both tribes, asserting his government and Sudan's government are not involved in those clashes.

"What is going on in Abyei area has nothing to do with governments. These are skirmishes between Dinka and Misseirya civilians in Abyei area," he said.

However the West Kordofan governor and the Sudanese army said South Sudanese army troops are involved in the clashes.

The governor Ahmed Khamis said SPLA troops breached the signed deal and deployed recently in the areas as result of the fighting with rebel SPLM-In Opposition in the new nations since December 2013.

He further held the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) for allowing the presence of the South Sudanese troops.

Also the commander if the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Infantry Division 22 Major General Omer Okasha stated that large number of SPLA troops equipped with heavy weapons attacked the Misseriya based in the northern bank of Bahr al-Arab or Kiir River. He added that over 10 people were killed while other 20 wounded were evacuated from Heglig and Al-Muglad hospitals by aircraft to Khartoum .

Al-Intibaha daily newspaper reported on Sunday that clashes erupted in Laki Al-Abiad area in north Abyei and said 13 Misseriya tribesmen were killed and 30 others injured, pointing the injured were taken to Dafra, Al-Muglad, and Heglig hospitals.

It pointed the injured were taken to Dafra, Al-Muglad, and Heglig hospitals, affirming that 350 Ngok Dinka were killed in the clashes.

The Misseriya's paramount chief, Mukhtar Babo Nimir, said in statements on Sunday that more than 11 people from Misseriya were killed and 24 others injured, asserting his people would not hesitate in responding to any aggression by Ngok Dinka.

The leading figure of the Misseriya, Abdel-Rahman Abu Saffa, told the newspaper that Dinka militias attacked them in Laki Al-Abiad at 6:00 am on Saturday, disclosing they seized 350 pieces of weapons including 16 rocket-propelled grenades, 8 anti-craft machine guns, 6 mortars, 20 garanofs, and other light weapons.

He stressed they would not abandon Abyei until the "day of resurrection", accusing the UN troops of colluding with the southern militias.

Abu Saffa called upon president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to save the Misseriya and allow Sudan's Armed Forces (SAF) to enter Abyei to stop the systematic campaign which he claims aims to eliminate them and Bashir is responsible before Allah (God) for their protection, wondering why the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee was absent from the area.

A source familiar with the situation in area told Sudan's Communist Party's (SCP) mouthpiece Al-Midan that 8 Misseriya people were killed and dozens others injured in clashes between the two tribes in the north of Abyei area, affirming the injured were taken to Al-Muglad hospital for treatment.

The same source added clashes continued until Saturday's afternoon and didn't mention the number of Ngok Dinka deaths, disclosing the Misseriya is mobilizing its armed men in the area.

Resolving the final status of Abyei still remains a major issue between Sudan and South Sudan after the latter broke away from the former in July 2011, leaving several unresolved post-secession issues.

In 2012, the AU mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this month, but stated that only those residing permanently in the area will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.

The Sudanese government, however, rejected the AU proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock over Abyei referendum saying it ignored the eligibility of the Misseriya.

In October 2013, the Ngok Dinka held a unilateral referendum in Abyei but the Sudanese government rejected its results calling it an "outcast".

Meanwhile, 4 people were killed and 8 others injured when forces securing oilfields dispersed local protests at Baleela oilfield in West Kordofan state.

Eyewitnesses told Al-Midan newspaper that dozens of residents in the oil rich Baleela area gathered near the oilfield following Friday prayer demanding offering them jobs at the oil companies operating in the field.

They added the oilfields protection forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters killing one person immediately and injuring 11 others 3 of them died later in the hospital , saying the injured were transferred to Al-Muglad and Al-Fula hospital.

The same sources pointed the oilfields protection forces used excessive force to disperse the protesters, saying an army force stationing near the oilfield attempted to stop the clashes which led to stabbing one of its troops to death.

They disclosed that local employees of oil companies operating in Baleela oilfield entered in a 3-day strike in protest against the incidence and handed over a memo to the governor of West Kordofan state, Ahmed Khamis, supporting legitimacy of the protesters demands and calling for brining perpetrators to justice

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