Published: Monday, May 6, 2013

Killings hike tension in Abyei area disputed by Sudans

Tension and anger gripped the Abyei region disputed by Sudan and South Sudan yesterday after the killing of a tribal chief and at least one peacekeeper, residents said, as the UN boosted security.
The Sudanese foreign ministry condemned the “isolated incident” which killed Kual Deng Majok, the top Ngok Dinka leader in Abyei.
Khartoum said members of the Misseriya tribe, the other dominant group in the area, also died in Saturday’s incident, along with three peacekeepers from the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
The United Nations earlier said one Ethiopian peacekeeper died and two other Blue Helmets were seriously wounded in the “attack by a Misseriya assailant on a UNISFA convoy”.
The foreign ministry expressed hope that the killings will not affect improving relations with South Sudan, whose army spokesman also condemned the violence.
A curfew was in effect, with UNISFA setting up extra checkpoints trying to restrict movement and prevent gatherings, the resident said on condition of anonymity.
The resident, who is familiar with the incident, said five Misseriya died in Saturday’s skirmish.
The UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said on Twitter that UNISFA was “expanding patrols with (the) aim of maintaining calm”.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged both tribes and governments to “avoid any escalation of this unfortunate event,” a statement said.
Abyei’s status has not been resolved despite steps which Sudan and South Sudan have taken since March to normalise their relations in other areas, after months of intermittent clashes along their undemarcated frontier.