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At least 23 killed in renewed communal clashes in disputed area near S Sudan

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Juba: At least 23 people have been killed and 17 others injured in renewed communal clashes between armed youth from Twic community of Warrap state and Ngok Dinka in the disputed Abyei Special Administrative Area, UN officials confirmed Monday.

The United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) confirmed in a statement that the armed youth from the Twic community of Warrap State over the weekend attacked areas in the Abyei Special Administrative Area.

“The series of attacks by armed attackers on civilians, which took place on Feb. 3 and 4 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,” UNISFA said.

The two communities first clashed on Jan. 27 to 28 in the Abyei Administrative Area, leaving 54 people killed, including two UN peacekeepers.

UNISFA said that the fighting in the southern part of Abyei resulted in many civilian deaths and injuries, kidnappings, the burning of villages, and the theft of cattle.

Bulis Koch Aguar Ajith, the minister of information for Abyei Administrative Area, claimed that armed youth from Twic backed by the Neur spiritual leader Gai Machek and his supporters coordinated the attacks on different villages in the area.

“The attacks on civilians culminated in loss of life, setting the markets and property ablaze and looting of livestock,” Koch said in a statement.

UNISFA said it has intensified patrols by land and air to deter further violence and protect civilians.

“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,” it said.

It strongly condemned the ongoing violence, saying it 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,” it said.

UNISFA called for the immediate cessation 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,” it said.

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