The death toll from an attack on a village in the disputed Abyei region on the Sudan-South Sudan border has risen to at least 32 people, a U.N. humanitarian agency said Thursday.
Armed men allegedly from the Sudan-allied Misseriya tribe Wednesday stormed the Dinka village of Kolom, about 9 kilometers (5.5 miles) northwest of Abyei.
More than two dozen others were wounded in the attack, said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.
The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Gwi-Yeop Son, condemned the attack and called on “all parties and stakeholders to refrain from any acts that can result in the loss of lives, increase tensions and chances of violence.”The U.N. peacekeeping mission in the area, known as UNIFSA, said at least 19 houses were torched.
Local activist Kirbino Dout said there were burned corpses inside the torched houses. He said at least 15 children were missing.
“The village is totally deserted and. Even some neighbor villages like Noong and Dokura are evacuated,” he said.
Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, said a joint investigation with South Sudan would be launched into the attack, according to the official SUNA news agency.
He said the two countries were discussing the formation of a joint force, stationed close to Abyei, to protect its people.The pact also required both sides to work out the final status of Abyei, but it’s still unresolved. The region’s majority Ngok Dinka people are believed to be in favor of joining South Sudan.
The Abyei region is rich in oil, one of the reasons both countries are reluctant to give it up.
A decades-long civil war between Sudan’s north and south ended with a 2005 peace deal that allowed for South Sudan to become independent following a referendum in 2011.