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32 civilians dead in ‘Sudanese army’ attack in disputed Abyei region

January 23 - 2020 ABYEI (UPDATED)
Map of Abyei (OCHA)
Map of Abyei (OCHA)

On Wednesday, 32 people were reportedly killed, 25 injured, three children went missing, and 19 houses were torched in an attack by gunmen – allegedly affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces – on Kolom village 10 kilometres north of the town of Abyei in the disputed oil-rich region on Sudan’s border with South Sudan.

Akon Akol, governor of Abyei old Radio Dabanga that a group of armed men, he says are “affiliated to the Sudanese Armed Forces” attacked the village using automatic weapons at 6 am yesterday.

The governor indicated that the wounded were transferred to Abyei Hospital. The dead bodies were buried in a mass grave in the area.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, issued a statement today: “I condemn this attack and call upon all parties and stakeholders to refrain from any acts that can result in the loss of lives, increase tensions and chances of violence,” Son said.

The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has confirmed that armed men attacked the village of Kolom in the early hours of 22 January.

Son says the humanitarian organisations on the ground are providing healthcare assistance, including emergency surgical operations, to the affected people.

In 2020, the Humanitarian Response Plan partners aim to provide 200,000 people in the Abyei area with humanitarian assistance.

Border dispute

Since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, both countries claim the border area of Abyei. The 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.

In October 2013, an informal referendum was held, in which only the Dinka participated. The Misseriya boycotted the vote. It turned out that 99.9 per cent of the voters considered Abyei a part of South Sudan.

(Updated 19:00 to reflect adjusted death toll)

(Sources: RD / OCHA)

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