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HEAVY fighting on Sunday in a disputed region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan killed at least 32 people, including a United Nations peacekeeper, authorities said.
The civilians and a Ghanaian soldier serving with a peacekeeping force died when unknown gunmen attacked two villages in the southern part of the Abyei administrative region, local media reported.
A South Sudanese radio station, Eye Radio Juba, quoted Abyei information minister Bolis Kuoch as saying that 32 people were killed and 20 others wounded.
Inter-communal and cross-border clashes have escalated since South Sudan deployed its troops to the contested territory in March. The peacekeeping mission there condemned the troop deployment, saying it would create “untold suffering and humanitarian concerns” for civilians.
International soldiers were sent to Aleel and Rum Ameer counties as part of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei to help quell the growing conflict.
Earlier this month, the UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, warned that the “unprecedented” seven-month war between Sudan’s army and a rival paramilitary force was getting closer to South Sudan and the Abyei region.
The UN says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in mid-April, displacing millions of people within Sudan and into neighbouring countries.
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