32 killed in Abyei, a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan


Heavy fighting in a disputed region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan killed has at least 32 people, including a U.N. peacekeeper, authorities said.

The civilians and a Ghanaian soldier serving with a peacekeeping force died when unknown gunmen attacked two villages in the southern part of the Abyei administrative region, local media reported.

A South Sudanese radio station, Eye Radio Juba, quoted Abyei information minister Bolis Kuoch as saying 32 people were killed and 20 others wounded, "but the clashes have now stopped and the situation calmed down."

Inter-communal and cross-border clashes have escalated since South Sudan deployed its troops to the contested territory in March. The peacekeeping mission there condemned the troop deployment, saying it would create "untold suffering and humanitarian concerns" for civilians.

International soldiers were sent to Aleel and Rum Ameer counties as part of the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei to help quell the growing conflict.

The Security Council last week voted unanimously to renew UNIFSA's mandate until Nov. 15, 2024.

Earlier this month, the U.N. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh warned that the "unprecedented" 7-month war between Sudan's army and a rival paramilitary force was getting closer to South Sudan and the Abyei region.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in mid-April, displacing millions of people within Sudan and into neighboring countries.

Sudan and South Sudan have disagreed over control of the oil-rich Abyei region since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after a 2005 peace deal ended decades of civil war between Sudan's north and south.

The deal called for both sides to settle the final status of Abyei through negotiations, but it has never been implemented.