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ABYEI - 25 Jun 2020

Gunmen attack UNISFA force protection in Abyei

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) said an unknown armed group opened fire on a UNISFA vehicle in the disputed area of Abyei on Wednesday.

In a statement seen by Radio Tamazuj on Thursday, UNISFA said the attackers opened fire on its troops that were providing force protection to a UN contracted IMDAD vehicle with two local staff on board.

It said the attack occurred between Goli and Todach area and left one soldier critically wounded while another sustained minor injury.

“At about 16:10 hours on Wednesday 24 June, between Goli and Todach area, an unknown armed group opened fire on a UNISFA vehicle that was providing force protection to a UN contracted IMDAD vehicle with two local staff on board. The team was returning to the Force Headquarters in Abyei from Farouk when the incident occurred,” the statement reads in part.

The statement says the critically wounded soldier was airlifted from Todach camp to Abyei Force Headquarters Level II hospital where he remains in critical but stable condition, while the other soldier and two IMDAD local staff were treated for shock and discharged in Todach camp.

UNISFA’s acting Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Mehari Zewde Gebremariam, condemned the attack on UNISFA peacekeepers as “unacceptable” and reiterated that any presence of armed groups within the Abyei box is a violation of Abyei’s weapon free status.

According to Gebremariam, UNISFA will not hesitate to place responsibility on those engaged in such attacks.

Reiterating the UN Secretary General appeal for global ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Major General Mehari calls on all members of the community to reserve their energies and join in the fight against COVID-19.

He further assured that UNISFA is fully committed in pursuing its mandate to ensure that Abyei Area is free of arms and armed groups and deplored any act that will further escalate tension in the area.

Abyei has been disputed since South Sudan obtained independence in 2011, while there have long been tensions between the Ngok Dinka community and the Misseriya nomads who traverse the area looking for grazing.

A 2005 peace deal requires Sudan and South Sudan to work out the final status of Abyei, but it remains unresolved.

In 2011, the UN Security Council deployed the peacekeeping force to the area after deadly clashes displaced thousands of people.