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Bloody-weekend; 42 perish in Ngok-Twic conflict

By Hou Akot Hou


As the angel of death keeps visiting Ngok-Twic areas, unless the national government takes drastic measures, the tail of conflict between the two communities seems beyond the horizon.

Just over the weekend, the lives of at least forty-two (42) people were erased from the earth and 35 others, nursing injuries in the latest attack on the conflict prone area by armed youth.

According to Dr. Rou Manyiel Rou, the Abyei Special Administrative Area Secretary General, duo groups—twic-armed youth and Gai Machiek—in separate attacks in the Abyei Special Administrative Area killed over forty people.

“Today, January 27, 2024, at 11 a.m., Twic armed youth, in collaboration with Gai Machiek, attacked Nyinkuac market in Abyei Town, where 16 innocent civilians were killed and 35 others wounded.”

He continued saying that in separate attacks, Twic armed youth and Gai Machiek rebels ambushed a vehicle escorting Ngok IDPs from Biemnhom to Rumamer, Abyei, in Kolngolnyang, killing 13 people and wounding an unspecified number of IDPs.

“In the afternoon, they attacked Kadhian, killing 8 people, followed by attacks on Majbuong and Juoljok, killing 4 and 1 person, respectively, bringing the total killed to 42, mostly women and children,” Rou noted.

Besides, Mr. Rou stated that as they face these barbaric coordinated attacks, the government of Abyei condemns the acts, adding that the act obstructs the order of the president as a pill to quell tension.

“We also call on the government of South Sudan to hold those responsible accountable for their crimes and urge the relevant security organs to speed up the deployment of the neutral forces,” he appealed.

The Minister of Information in Abyei Administrative Area, Bulis Koc, told this outlet in a phone interview that the attackers came through Ajak-kuach of Twic County on Friday and sneaked into an internally displaced persons camp called Madol in Abyei, where Nuer civilians who were displaced by floods since 2020 are being hosted.

He alleged that the youth made their way into the IDP camp and planned the attack, which occurred in the dawn hours of Saturday.

“What happened is that one of the Nuer youths came out of the Madol camp and went to Abyei Town with a gun, and when the C.I.D. personnel followed him, he hurriedly went back to the camp running and passed by the women fetching water from the borehole. When the women saw him running into the camp with a weapon, they ran in different directions, and the armed youth within the camp started shooting at people,” Koc narrated.

He noted that the sporadic shooting occurred on different fronts on Saturday, leaving many causalities dead on both sides.

“17 people of Abyei are confirmed dead, 35 wounded, and 5 people killed by the attackers of Nuer youth who came through Ajak-Kuach,” Bulis corroborated.

Bulis claimed that the motive behind the attack by Nuer youth was revenge killing, which included looting of the properties of Ayei citizens and Sudanese nomads.

Also, the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) condemned the attack and confirmed the death of its peacekeeper, a Ghanaian national who was murdered during an attack on its bases in Abyei.

“The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) strongly condemns a series of armed attacks that took place at 4:45 PM on January 27, 2024, in the Abyei Area, which resulted in civilian casualties as well as the death of a United Nations peacekeeper from Ghana,” the statement said.

The mission confirms that the inter-communal clashes that took place in the Nyinkuac, Majbong, and Khadian areas led to casualties and the evacuation of civilians to UNISFA bases to provide safety for those caught up in the violence.

“The mission strongly condemns the violence and extends its profound condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives as well as the fallen peacekeeper,” UNISFA added.

But when contacted, the Warrap minister of information, William Wol Mayom, delinked armed youth involvement in the recent attack, adding that their youth had never waged any attack since the president’s order for a ceasefire.

Mr. Mayom stated that there are so many armed elements within the Abyei, and they could be the people who masterminded attacks.

However, he promised to investigate the matter and hold those found to be responsible accountable.

Conversely, Mr. Mayom pointed a finger at Abyei armed youth for ambush and killing two drivers—a national and a Sudanese national—and several others were left nursing wounds.

Early this month, the commissioner of Twic County, Simon Aguek Chan, told No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, that Abyei armed youth had defied President’s order and attacked Anyiel Kuac area of Turalei Payam in Twic.

Although no casualties were recorded, Mr. Aguek underscored that several villages were torched to ashes.

However, the information minister of Abyei Administrative Area, Bulis Koch, denied and distanced youths from the alleged attack.

The recent spate of attacks came after President Kiir issued an order to both communities of Twic and Ngok to instantly implement a permanent ceasefire.

On December 31, 2023, the deputy chief administrator of Abyei Administrative Area, Noon Deng Nyok, and four of his bodyguards, including the driver, were killed in an ambush along Agok Road.

Also in November last year, at least 32 people were killed during ethnic fighting between the Twic Community of Warrap and the Ngok Dinka Community of Abyei Administrative Area.

Not only that, there has been a continuous dispute between the communities of Apuk and Marial Baai, where both have waged counterattacks.

In April 2023, the Twic Dinka and the Ngok Dinka signed a ceasefire agreement, but the situation remains tense and unstable.

Demands for aggressive response

Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Edmond Yakani, has urged the government to employ aggressive measures to stop the Abyei killings.

Yakani issued a statement following the recent attack that left over forty people dead over the weekend.

He termed the incidents genocide and crimes against humanity, taking a toll on the lives of the sisterly communities of Twic Mayardit and Abyei.

“The national political leadership should urgently act on preventive measures because the possibility of another deadly revenge attack taking place soon is very high and it is going to be destructive,” he urged.

“This deadly violence requires an aggressive response from the top political leadership. The implementation of the recent presidential order on this conflict is required without any delay from now on,” Yakani continued.

The CEPO boss condemned the renewal of the deadly violence between the conflicting communities with alleged aid from some violent-minded armed Nuer youth.

The executive director expressed dismay over what he called disturbing and clear acts that constitute crimes against humanity and attacks on UN peacekeeping efforts.

“Sincerely, genocide is taking place in the eye of the country leadership in this armed, deadly Twic Mayardit-Abyei conflicting communities!” He wondered.

Yakani demanded a committee be constituted for handling the recent presidential order on Greater Bahr El Ghazal communities to be formed and tasked with immediate responsibilities and duties on preventing more deadly violence.

The Civil Society activity urged that the committee be tasked with sorting out the grievances of the conflicting communities through dialogue.

“CEPO, with due respect and honor, is urging the president to take an aggressive strategy for preventing the deadly violence and enforce the mechanisms for justice and accountability for the atrocities committed by the conflicting community leaders,” Yakani emphasized.

On January 10 and 11, 2024, some state governors and chief administrators of Abyei Special Administrative Area and Ruweng Administrative Area met in a bid to resolve inter-communal violence between the respective sisterly communities.

Additional reports to this article were contributed by our journalists, William Madouk and Charles K Mark.

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