By Waakhe Simon Wudu
JUBA (Reuters) -More than 50 people including women, children and two U.N. peacekeepers were killed in attacks along South Sudan’s border with Sudan, officials said, the deadliest in a spate of incidents since 2021 related to a boundary dispute.
Armed young men from South Sudan’s Warrap State carried out the raids into the neighbouring Abyei region on Saturday, Bulis Koch, the information minister for Abyei, said on Monday.
Abyei is an oil-rich area that is jointly administered by South Sudan and Sudan, which have both staked claims to it.
Koch told Reuters that 52 local people, among them women, children and police officers, were killed during the attacks on Saturday. A further 64 people were wounded.
“Because of the current dire security situation at hand, which has created fears and panic, we have imposed a curfew,” he said.
A Ghanaian peacekeeper from a United Nations force based in Abyei was killed when its base in the town of Agok was attacked amid the violence, the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said on Sunday.
In further violence a day later, a second peacekeeper, from Pakistan, was killed and four of his colleagues and a civilian wounded while transporting civilians from a UNISFA base to a hospital, UNISFA said on Monday. It gave no further details.
Koch said hundreds of displaced civilians had sought shelter at a UNISFA base.
William Wol, Warrap State’s information minister, said his government would conduct an investigation jointly with the Abyei administration.
There have been repeated clashes in Abyei between rival factions of the Dinka ethnic group related to a dispute over the location of an administrative boundary where significant tax revenue is collected from cross-border trade.
Koch said young Dinka men from Warrap and the forces of a rebel leader from the Nuer ethnic group carried out the attacks against Dinkas and Nuers in Abyei.
Civil war in South Sudan, erupting soon after the country won independence from Sudan, and fought largely along ethnic lines between Dinkas and Nuers, caused hundreds of thousands of deaths between 2013 and 2018.
Since then, routine clashes among a patchwork of armed groups have continued to kill and displace large numbers of civilians. Fighting in Abyei in November killed at least 32 people.
(Reporting by Waakhe Simon Wudu, Writing by Bhargav Acharya and George Obulutsa; editing by Aaron Ross, Angus MacSwan and Mark Heinrich)
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