Fear grips Abyei after suspected Sudanese militia killed 40 people

By James Atem Kuir

Authorities in Abyei Special Administrative Areasaidcivilians were still on the move and constant after suspected Misseriya militiamen from Sudankilled about 40 people and injured dozen others on Wednesday.

The attackers targeted the two villages of Noong, Lou and the local trading hub Amiet Market where they torched huts and shops and other properties and displaced hundreds of households according to the spokesperson of the disputed area.

“The situation is still tense and volatile, people are in panic and there is the movement of people in the villages that were burned down. Nobody has returned to the villages that were burned but there are few people trying to go about their businesses in Amiet Market which was also torched and looted,” Ajak Deng Miyen, the area spokesperson told Juba Monitor on Friday.

Abyei area–home to the NgokDinkapeopleand claimed by both South Sudan and Sudan – has continued to come under deadly raids from Arab Misseriya pastoralists despite the presence of theUnited Nations protection forcestationed there since 2011following eruption of fighting between Juba and Khartoum two competing nations.

In March, nearly 30 people were killed and a number of people displaced following attacks blamed on the Misseriya nomadswho graze cattle in parts of Abyei during dry seasons.

Sudanese authorities have not said anything in regard to accusations of attack by its militia despite repeated calls to stop the group from staging attacks.

The United Nation Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) has increasingly come under criticism fromAbyei authorities for not doing enough to execute its mandate of protecting civilians.

MrMiyensaid UNISFA forces did not intervene quickly when the nomads stormed villageson Wednesdaydespite the reported arrest of 12 attackers by the peacekeepers.

“About 40 people were killed in those three attacks. They were shooting randomly in the market and in the surrounding villages where there were people making charcoal, which is where there were a lot of casualties.

“They (UNISFA forces)were in the market, nearby and even there were team sites in Lou (one of the villages attacked by the Misseriya tribesmen) but they did not engage them (attackers) although they tried to bring back the cattle but they couldn’t yet they were taken in front of them,” Mr said.

“We urge them to improve deliver the protection of civilians. It was so unfortunate,” official lamented.

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