Two policemen killed in Abyei after clashes between police and Sudanese soldiers

By James Gatdet Dak

December 12, 2008 (ST)

Northern Sudanese soldiers clashed today with some Abyei police members who belong to the southern Sudan government. Two policemen were killed in a misunderstanding that started with a scuffle between them and a butcher in the old market of the disputed area.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Head of UNMIS, deplored the incident and confirmed that members of the Joint Integrated Unit (JIU) and the Joint Integrated Police Unit (JIPU) were involved in the deadly fighting.

Last June the two peace partners, the NCP and the SPLM agreed, in order to avoid such violence as it was the case last May, to withdraw their units from the contested area, and to deploy only joint military and police units in Abyei.

Reports from the area say that the violence started when a policeman was stabbed by a butcher from the Messiriya tribe. He had refused to move to a new market in Abyei town. Also, as the police fired in the air to disperse the crowd, the SAF soldiers fired back believing they were under attack.

However another conflicting report says the two forces disagreed on how to deal with the butcher issue.

This latest clash comes after six months of relative peace in the area.

Heavy fighting erupted in May this year between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in the disputed oil rich region of Abyei, resulting to hundreds of casualties, destruction of the whole town and displacement of tens of thousands.

Government of Southern Sudan’s Minister for Presidential Affairs, Dr. Luka Biong Deng, said tensions were high on Friday in Abyei town after the deadly clash . He further said a number of people were reported killed and some others wounded and that civilians started fleeing the town for their safety.

Abyei Area’s Chief Administrator, Brig. Arop Moyak, is reportedly heading to the region to arrest the situation.

A roadmap agreement, which resulted to formation of interim administration within interim boundaries constituting Abyei Area, was reached in June by the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in January 2005.

The agreement also saw the implementation of wealth sharing and security arrangement protocols in the area after three years of stalemate.

The head of the UNAMIs called on all parties and residents in Abyei, as well as people residing in Diffra and Agok, to remain calm. He asked that they offer their full cooperation and support to the Abyei Administration in the maintenance of peace and law and order.

He also urged the parties to take all necessary measures to avoid any further outbreaks of violence, and to ensure that today’s unfortunate incident does not impede the peaceful implementation of the Abyei road map.

The oil rich region according to the CPA will decide in 2011’s referendum to either annex to Southern Sudan or remain with northern Sudan in case the South votes for independence in the same year.


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