At least 42 killed in fresh communal clashes near South Sudan

By Xinhua
On 29 January 2024 at 06:26

At least 42 people were killed including a UN peacekeeper during clashes Saturday in the Abyei Administrative Area between armed youth of the Twic community of neighboring Warrap state and Ngok Dinka of Abyei, officials confirmed Sunday.

Rou Manyiel Rou, the secretary general of Abyei Special Administrative Area, said that the attacks in Nyinkuac, Majbong, and Khadian areas by armed youth from the Twic community in collaboration with Nuer youth loyal to their spiritual leader Gai Machiek also left 35 people wounded.

"As we face these barbaric coordinated attacks, the government of Abyei Special Administrative Area condemns in the strongest terms possible the attempt by Twic and their allied armed youth to defy the presidential order issued recently by President Salva Kiir to end the conflict between Ngok Dinka and Twic communities," Manyiel told Xinhua in an interview.

President Kiir’s order issued on Jan. 18 called on security forces to expel from Warrap state the Nuer spiritual leader Gai Machiek and his loyal Nuer youth in a bid to resolve the conflict between Ngok Dinka and the Twic communities. The order also called on security forces to summon and arrest politicians from both warring communities who appeared to incite violence between the two communities.

Manyiel called for the speedy deployment of neutral security forces along the border between Twic County and the Abyei Administrative Area.

Simon Aguek Chan, the commissioner of Twic County of Warrap state, said that their youth were not involved in the violence in the Abyei Administrative Area. Aguek said that the fighting was between armed Nuer youth staying within Abyei and the local Ngok Dinka youth.

"The Nuer armed youth who fought with Abyei youth on Saturday are the ones who have been killing people in Twic, they have heavy machine guns and I believe they are from organized forces because the weapons they have are not supposed to be for civilians," he said.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) condemned the series of armed attacks that took place Saturday in the Abyei Administrative Area, which resulted in the death of a UN peacekeeper from Ghana.

"The Mission confirms that the inter-communal clashes that took place in the Nyinkuac, Majbong, and Khadian areas led to casualties and the evacuation of civilians to UNISFA bases to provide safety for those caught up in the violence. Efforts are underway to verify the number of those killed, injured, and displaced in the violence," it said in a statement.

It added that the UNISFA base in Agok came under attack by an armed group that was repelled by the peacekeepers.

UNISFA called for a swift and thorough investigation into the circumstances leading to these attacks to ensure that all perpetrators are held accountable.

In November 2023, 32 people were killed in deadly communal fighting between Ngok Dinka and Twic communities in the Abyei Administrative Area.

The two communities have been contesting for years the ownership of a strip of land in the Aneet border area, which separates the two communities.

Abyei Administrative Area remains a contested area between South Sudan and its neighbor Sudan which is currently mired in conflict since April 15.