UN voices concern after 14 killed in fresh clashes in Sudan’s disputed Abyei region

Peacekeepers in Sudan on patrol in the Abyei area

3 May 2011 – United Nations blue helmets in Sudan today found the bodies of 14 people in the Abyei area, the apparent victims of the latest round of clashes in the disputed region of central Sudan.

The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) dispatched patrols to Todach, the scene of reported fighting late yesterday, and discovered the bodies of 11 people wearing uniforms and three people in civilian clothing, the mission’s spokesperson Kouider Zerrouk told the UN News Centre.

The uniformed personnel were members of joint integrated units (JIUs), comprising personnel from both Northern and Southern Sudan. These units were set up as part of efforts to implement the peace agreement that ended the long-running north-south civil war in Sudan.

Mr. Zerrouk said the peacekeepers were unable to confirm who was responsible for the killings, adding that the attacks were being investigated.

“We’re concerned about these recent clashes in the Abyei area and we call on all concerned parties to refrain from using violence,” he said.

Tensions have been high in Abyei for months as the area remains in dispute between the north and the south, which will formally separate from the rest of Sudan in July.

A referendum on the future status of Abyei was supposed to have been held in January but never took place amid disputes over voter eligibility.

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