South Sudan: Five Killed in Army Attack On Abyei Village

Darfur displaced (file photo).

Abyei — Five people were killed during an attack, allegedly by the South Sudanese army, on a village in the disputed Abyei region yesterday.

In a statement yesterday evening, Maj Gen Ezeldin Osman, head of the Joint Supervisory Committee for the Abyei Region, condemned the attack on a Dinka village in the Gouli area.

An estimated 70 South Sudanese soldiers clashed with the guards of the village, he said. Three villagers died, including a child. Three others were injured. Two of the attackers were killed as well.

The major general holds United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa) indirectly responsible for "this unfortunate incident", and "their failure to protect the people of Abyei from this repeated violence by these forces".

The Joint Supervisory Committee did convey information to Unisfa about the presence of South Sudanese armed forces deployed in the area, he said. "We asked them to take appropriate measures with regard to this matter, which did not happen."

According to Osman legal and security measures must be taken "to put an end to these crimes".

Since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, both countries claim the border area of Abyei. The oil-rich region is inhabited primarily by members of the South Sudanese Dinka Ngok clan. It is also the seasonal home of the Sudanese Arab Misseriya herder tribe.

The Abyei status referendum, in which the residents of the region would decide either to remain part of Sudan or become part of South Sudan, was planned to be held simultaneously to the South Sudanese independence referendum in January 2011, but was postponed indefinitely because of disagreements over the process.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa) was established by the UN Security Council in June 2011 to monitor and verify the redeployment of armed forces from Abyei. Unisfa also has a mandate to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence, to protect the area from incursions by unauthorized elements, and ensure security.

Unisfa deploys 5,326 military personnel and 50 police officers. The UN mission costs $268 million a year (figure from 2017).

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