Sudan troops enter Abyei, 14 dead

Deadly fighting have flared in Abyei since Jan, when the district had been due to vote on its future.

Last Updated: May 03, 2011, 19:49 PM IST

Kadugli: A heavily armed Sudanese
military convoy entered the flashpoint border district of
Abyei, sparking clashes that left up to 14 people dead, its
chief administrator and a UN spokesman said on Tuesday.

The fighting broke out on Sunday when a Sudanese army
major insisted on entering the disputed territory after the
police tried to stop his convoy of six landcruisers mounted
with machine guns and more than 200 troops, administrator Deng
Arop Kuol said.

"They killed a local police sergeant from the SPLA
(Sudan People`s Liberation Army -- the southern armed forces).
I think the UN recovered another 11 bodies. It was a violent
clash," said the southern-nominated official.

A UN spokesman confirmed the deadly clashes on Sunday,
saying a peacekeeping patrol had found 14 bodies, after
initially being denied access to the area by an angry crowd.

"One of our patrols went to the scene of the fighting
yesterday, where they found 14 dead bodies, 11 of them in JIU
uniform and three in civilian clothes," said Kouider Zerrouk,
referring to the special Joint Integrated Units of northern
and southern personnel deployed in Abyei.

The district`s chief administrator said the army had
been trying to supply northern elements of the joint units
with extra weapons and described their presence in Abyei as
"illegal."

"They were not supposed to enter our territory
according to the Abyei protocol. So there was a plan of
invading," Kuol said, referring to an annexe of the 2005 peace
deal that ended a devastating 22-year civil war between north
and south.

Kuol said that northern elements of the joint units
set up under the protocol had joined the fighting, which took
place around 17 kilometres north of Abyei town.

He said the northern troops were now in Goli --
further north but still within the district`s boundaries.

The Sudanese army spokesman was not immediately
available to comment on the allegations.

North and south have repeatedly accused each other of
sending large numbers of "irregular" soldiers into Abyei, in
breach of a January truce which called for the withdrawal of
all forces except the JIUs and UN peacekeepers.

Deadly fighting and recriminations have flared in
Abyei since January, when the district had been due to vote on
its future, alongside a referendum in the south that delivered
a landslide for secession.

The plebiscite was postponed indefinitely amid
deadlock between north and south over who should be eligible
to vote.

PTI