October 18, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Unknown gunmen killed three civilians in Abyei during the last week in a series of attacks that the UN security force (UNISFA) considers as “a blatant violation of the weapons-free status” of the disputed area.
- UN peacekeepers from Ethiopia patrol the outskirts of the disputed Abyei town that straddles the border between Sudan and South Sudan on 16 September 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)
An unidentified armed group opened fire on the Amiet Common Market, 15 km north of Abyei town, killing two women and injuring four people on 13 October. Two days later in Banton area, 8 km south of Abyei town, three gunmen fired at a commercial vehicle killing one woman and wounded two others.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said “deeply concerned” about these bloody attacks on the innocent civilians.
“UNISFA considers these attacks on innocent civilians going about their activities blatant violations of the weapons-free status of Abyei Area, and condemns them in the strongest possible violations in very strong terms,” said the Mission’s spokesperson Daniel Adekera in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
Adekera further underscored that the presence of armed groups in Abyei is a violation of its mandate, adding that the mission will engage “forcefully” with the perpetrators of such violations.
Also, he recalled that UNISFA mandate consists of the protection of civilians and ensuring that the Abyei Area is free of arms.
“The mission reaffirms its intent to protect all members of the community and requests maximum cooperation from all the stakeholders in order to enable the mission to achieve this task,” said the statement.
Adekera went further to say these attacks represent the work of ‘spoilers’ and criminals bent on reversing the gains made to ensure sustainable peace and security within the Abyei Area.
The peacekeeping force believes common markets like that one in Amiet are helping to rebuild confidence between the Dinka and Misseriya communities.
Khartoum and Juba agreed to deploy the over 4000 Ethiopian troops force in June 2011 a month before the South Sudan’s independence after an attack on the Sudanese army in the area.
The two countries failed to agree on who is eligible to participate in a referendum to determine the fate of the region, due to a difference between the two communities over the participation of the Misseriya nomads