(Juba) A series of attacks on Sunday in Abiyé, a disputed region on the border between Sudan and South Sudan, left 32 dead, including women, children and a peacekeeper, local officials said.
The attacks, carried out in two counties by armed militias and soldiers wearing South Sudanese army uniforms, were condemned by a government representative of the oil-rich territory whose status has not been resolved since the independence of South Sudan in 2011.
“32 people were killed, including children and women burned in their huts, and more than 20 people were injured,” said Bulis Koch Aguar Ajith, Abiyeh information minister and Sudanese spokesperson. of the South for the region, in a press release published Sunday evening.
“A UNISFA soldier [Force intérimaire de sécurité des Nations unies pour l’Abiyé, NDLR] was killed and another injured,” he added, without further details.
In a statement released Monday, the United States, United Kingdom and Norway (the “Troika” which sponsored South Sudan’s independence in 2011), called for “calm and restraint,” while urging “all those in a position to influence affected communities to take all appropriate measures to prevent further escalation and press for an end to the violence.”
South Sudan has called for an urgent investigation into these “barbaric attacks on civilians”.
Located between Sudan and South Sudan, the Abiyé region has been a point of tension since the South’s independence in 2011.
Earlier this month, a regional UN envoy expressed fears that fighting between rival factions vying for power in Sudan was moving closer to the South Sudan-Abiye border.
The proximity of the fighting to Abiyé risks destabilizing this already fragile region, while the ongoing crisis in Sudan has “effectively suspended” discussions between the two countries on this long-disputed territory, warned Hanna Tetteh, special envoy of the United Nations for the Horn of Africa.
In Sudan, the conflict sparked on April 15 between the head of the army, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and his deputy turned rival, General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, left more than 10,000 dead, according to an estimate by the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled), considered largely undervalued.
The UN Security Council unanimously voted this month to extend the peacekeeping mission in Abiyé, established 12 years ago and which currently has 4,000 troops.