Sudanese soldiers, UN peacekeepers attacked in Abyei

16:42, May 20, 2011      

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Sudan People's Liberation Army ( SPLA) ambushed the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) soldiers and UN peacekeepers some seven km north of Abyei town on Sudan's north- south border, official SUNA news agency reported on Friday.

"Heavy weapons were used against the SAF and UN troops in the ambush, resulting in great human loss," SUNA quoted SAF Spokesman Al-Sawarmy Khalid Saad as saying in a statement released earlier Friday morning.

Al-Sawarmy said that the SAF maintained the right to respond, while the SPLA has not yet confirmed or refuted this news.

The UN on Friday confirmed the attack, saying that unidentified gunmen attacked a convoy transporting northern Sudanese soldiers and UN peacekeepers in the country's disputed area of Abyei, which resulted in wounding two persons.

A spokesman of the UN Mission in Sudan said the convoy was attacked when on its way to Goli, north of Abyei town, noting that the UN peacekeepers were escorting two brigades of Sudanese army as part of a deal between north and south Sudan to withdraw all their forces which are unauthorized to be in the area.

The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) have earlier agreed to withdraw all their forces from Abyei, as of last Tuesday, excluding the joint integrated forces, in accordance with a previous agreement between the two sides.

Early this month the Abyei area witnessed violent clashes between the SAF and the southern Sudanese forces that resulted in killing of 14 persons, according to UN.

Violence has aggravated in Abyei since the south Sudan referendum on Jan. 9, 2011 which resulted in separation of south Sudan.

A referendum on Abyei was supposed to be held coincident with the south Sudan referendum, but it was postponed in the wake of a difference between the NCP and the SPLM over who has the right to vote in the referendum. The NCP said the Mesiria tribe has the right to vote, while the SPLM insisted that only Dinka Nkok tribe has that right.

Source: Xinhua
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