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A man taking part in the national day of prayers for peace A man taking part in the national day of prayers for peace 

At least 19 people killed in attack in South Sudan

At least 19 people die and dozens more are wounded in an attack in the disputed Abyei region in South Sudan.

By Francesca Merlo

Officials suspect nomadic Misseriya herders from Sudan to be the perpetrators of an attack on the Dinka village of Kolom. The village is situated around 9km Northwest of Abyei, a much disputed region on the border of South Sudan.

The conflict lies between the South Sudanese Ngok Dinka community and the Misseriya who cross the area looking for grazing.

The United Nations Interim Security Forces in Abyei (UNISFA) have reported 19 deaths and at least 25 wounded so far. However, the chief administrator of the Abyei area reported that the number of dead stood at 32.  

"Thirty-two people were killed among them children and women, and secondly about 24 people are wounded ... and about 15 people including children were abducted and 20 houses burned," he said.

He also said that the wounded were being evacuated to a nearby Doctors Without Borders–run hospital in the town of Agok.

2005 peace deal

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and by December 2013, the country had devolved into a civil war that killed at least 400,000 people and displaced millions.

A peace deal signed in 2005 between Sudan’s North and South ended the decades-long civil war. The pact, however, required both sides to finalise the status of the disputed, oil-rich, Abyei region.

Pope Francis and South Sudan

Pope Francis has made numerous appeals for peace in South Sudan, having previously met with the nation’s conflicting leaders in the Vatican last year and urging them to “stay in peace”, as “with war, all is lost”.

He has also expressed his desire to visit the world’s youngest nation together with the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. 

23 January 2020, 13:41