By Hou Akot Hou
A fierce fight that erupted in the restive parts of Abyei Administrative Area (AAA) early Sunday morning has reportedly left 32 people dead and 27 others injured, area authorities said.
The Secretary General of the Abyei Administrative Area, Arou Manyiel Arou, confirmed the tragic communal clashes to the No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper via phone from Abyei yesterday.
Manyiel said the fighting ensued in various areas of AAA, including Nyiel, Agok, Wuncuei, and Rum-Amer, among others at around 6:00 o’clock.
He said the onslaught started when locals were still asleep, leaving dozens of residents dead and displacements of many.
Mr. Manyiel said the attackers confronted them from all fronts emanating from the Ajak-Kuach area of Twic County, and they were seen by the residents as having elements dressed in the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) uniforms.
He further said the attackers are suspected to be under Commander Gai Machiek, based in Ajak-Kuach, and allied to reengage General Stephen Buay.
“Thirty-two (32) confirmed dead and 27 wounded, and attackers are suspected to be from Gel-Weng Twic Youth, supported by men in SSPDF uniforms,” Manyiel alleged.
“One was just rushed to the hospital here, and 27 are wounded”.
The Area Secretary-General said those killed included children and women, and houses were burned down to ashes.
He also disclosed that other areas attacked in the Sunday morning offensive by the aggressive, angry armed youths allegedly backed by soldiers include the Anthony and Malual-Aleu areas of Alal County, Abyei Administrative Area.
Manyiel accused Twic Youth of having instigated the killings again as revenge killing for the last-week incident that resulted in the killing of an SSPDF officer called Akol from Aweil.
He said the neighboring Twic youth are suspected to have been joined by elements of the SSPDF of Division 3 as revenge for the killing of their civilians allegedly done by Ngok youth, or Tiit Baai, as they are referred to.
“Now we have evidence that the Division 3 battalion of SSPDF is having a hand in the attack this morning, for they accuse Abyei youth of having killed their officer called Akol last week, and General Akuei of Division 3 has to justify himself, and the youth in Twic have also implemented their agenda for two years overdue,” Manyiel claimed.
The Administrative Area secretary general stated that they are engaging with the national government in Juba and the international community to arrest the situation by taking all necessary steps to stop the bloodbath between Twic of Warrap and Abyei.
“We have been engaging SSPDF commanders through the Twic commissioner in Rum-Amer so that they prevent their youth from coming to Abyei sides, so we want to appeal to the national government to intervene,” Mr. Manyiel urged.
He also said the casualties are not yet confirmed to the fullest as fighting continues to rage on all fronts.
Meanwhile, No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper attempts to reach the SSPDF Division 3 commander for comment on the allegations were futile by press time, as his known contact was not immediately available.
The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has condemned the killing of civilians in Abyei on Sunday, November 19, 2023.
CEPO said this is a criminal act and constitutes a human rights violation, adding that the perpetrators should know that one day they will be held accountable.
Mr. Edmund Yakani, CEPO’s Executive Director, urged the government to urgently launch an investigation into the gruesome incident.
He said the investigation should be carried out by independent actors apart from the suspected conflicting parties.
He echoed that the trend of violence around Abyei and Twic Mayardit communities is getting dangerous and deadly, which may constitute a crime against humanity, saying that unfortunately, the central government is not serious about handling the conflict among the communities.
The deadly fight around the angle of Abyei-Twic Mayardit is politically motivated and aided by idol youth who want to earn their livelihood through the barrel of the gun,” Yakani claimed.
“This is where youth view guns as a mode of wealth rather than a dangerous item for human society,” he noted.
“The other factor that fueled the ethnic attitude of controlling land or land ownership among the communities This experience should inform our political leaders when making political decisions in terms of policy or legislation regarding the fate of land ownership” Mr. Yakani stressed.
CEPO urges the youth in Abyei and Twic Mayardit communities to abstain from being used by politicians to foster deadly violence in their communities.