"Bodies of UN Peacekeepers Killed in Abyei Flown Home"

The bodies of two UN peacekeepers killed in the disputed region of Abyei, along South Sudan’s border with Sudan, have been repatriated.

According to the UN, the Ghanaian and Pakistani peacekeepers from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (Unisfa) were killed in separate incidents following recent intercommunal clashes.

The Ghanaian peacekeeper was among 52 people killed on Saturday when armed youth launched attacks in different parts of Abyei. Another 64 people were seriously wounded in the process. The Pakistani peacekeeper was killed in an ambush on Sunday while transporting some of the injured from Saturday’s attack.

A ceremony, attended by the leaders of the nine chiefdoms of Abyei, was held to honor the two peacekeepers before their bodies were flown home.

Unisfa condemned the attacks on its peacekeepers, stating that they could constitute a war crime under international law.

Clashes between local communities in Abyei over land and resources have continued, with concerns that the ongoing war in Sudan could spill into the region.

A local resident said that there is tension following recent clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Babanusa, a town 260km (160 miles) north of Abyei. He added that if either of the warring sides in Sudan advances to Abyei, they might clash with the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces personnel who have set up camps in parts of the region.

Both Sudan and South Sudan have claimed the oil-rich Abyei but agreed on temporary administrative arrangements in a 2011 deal. However, human rights activists have accused both sides of violating the agreement.

Abyei is currently under the protection of UN peacekeeping troops.

Piers Potter


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