The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) confirms that a fresh outbreak of attacks in the southern part of Abyei over the weekend resulted in a number of civilian deaths and injuries, kidnappings, the burning of villages and theft of cattle.
The series of attacks by armed attackers on civilians, which took place on 3 and 4 February in Malual Aleu, Banton, Awolnhom, Abathok, Majbong, Awal, and East of Rumamier, included the use of heavy weapons, such as rocket propelled grenades and mortars. Initial reports indicate that 23 people were killed and 17 others injured in the attacks. UNISFA has intensified its patrols by land and air to deter further violence and protect civilians.
UNISFA peacekeepers were also targeted during the violence, with an armoured personnel carrier coming under heavy fire during an ambush. Ghanaian UN Peacekeepers at a base in Marial Achak were also fired upon before the attackers were repelled.
The violence follows a series of similar attacks by armed groups on 27 and 28 January, which resulted in significant numbers of civilian casualties, the loss of two UN peacekeepers, and widespread displacement. UNISFA peacekeepers are currently sheltering and providing basic support to more than 2,000 displaced people in its bases, including hundreds of children, pregnant women, elderly, and people with disabilities. UNISFA strongly denounces the ongoing violence, which is escalating intercommunal tensions and threatening the fragile peace. The mission conveys its sincere condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives and recalls that the targeting of peacekeepers may constitute a war crime under international law.
UNISFA is making all efforts to restore calm, protect civilians, and engage with local authorities, community leaders, civil society, and other stakeholders to prevent retaliatory attacks. The mission urges the immediate cease of hostilities, respect of international humanitarian law, and protection of civilians. UNISFA calls on all stakeholders to cooperate in holding perpetrators accountable and ensuring peace is restored in Abyei.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).