About 40 killed in violence near disputed Sudan-South Sudan border
About 40 people, many of them civilians, have been killed in violence in a disputed area on South Sudan's border with Sudan over the weekend, a government official said on Monday.
Frequent clashes have taken place in Abyei region between rival factions of the Dinka ethnic group because of a dispute over the location of an administrative boundary where significant tax revenue is collected from cross-border trade.
Abyei is an oil-rich area that is jointly administered by South Sudan and Sudan, which have both staked claims to it.
The region's information minister, Bulis Koch, said: “In the attacks that took place on February 2 and 3, several markets were set on fire, property looted and altogether 19 civilians got killed and 18 others were wounded.”
A further 18 people were killed in separate attacks on Sunday, he said, adding that three children were among the dead.
The charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said two of its staff members had been killed.
“Following heavy fighting in Abyei ... over the past weeks, MSF is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of two of our South Sudanese colleagues,” MSF said in a statement posted on its social media platforms.
It did not say when exactly its workers had died or the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeepers were also attacked in the latest bout of violence. An armoured personnel carrier came under heavy fire in an ambush, the force said in a statement. It had intensified its patrols by land and air to prevent an escalation, it said.
Koch said young men from neighbouring Warrap state in South Sudan and from a militia linked to a rebel and spiritual leader Gai Machiek had taken part in the violence.
Warrap State's information minister William Wol did not respond to requests for comment.
In late January at least 54 people, including women, children and two UN peacekeepers were killed in attacks in the same area.
UNISFA said more than 2,000 people were now sheltering at its bases due to the fighting in January and the past weekend.
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