Official: About 100 Civilians Killed in Sudan’s Abyei Region

Posted June 2nd, 2011 at 9:05 am (UTC-5)
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An official in Sudan's Abyei region says about 100 civilians were killed when north Sudanese forces seized control of the area last month.

Abyei's former chief administrator, Deng Arop Kuol, gave the death toll to reporters Wednesday, adding that the figure is preliminary.

There has been no independent confirmation of casualty figures from Abyei. The United Nations says tens of thousands of residents fled after northern troops and allied militia occupied the region May 21, driving out troops from south Sudan.

U.N. officials and independent monitors say that since then, dozens of buildings in Abyei's main town have been destroyed. A monitoring group, the Satellite Sentinel Project, says northern forces may have committed war crimes.

South Sudan is set to declare independence from the north on July 9. The two sides have been unable to agree on who will control Abyei and its money-producing oil fields.

On Wednesday, north Sudan's government laid out proposals for settling the dispute. The north called for called for replacement of international peacekeepers in Sudan with an African force. It also suggested the appointment of a new joint administration for Abyei to be led by a rotating chairman.

Sudanese media reports say southern officials have rejected the proposals. The Sudan Tribune quotes the southern army spokesman, Philip Aguer, as saying the proposals are “one-sided.”

The north has rejected calls from the United States, United Nations, and south Sudan to remove its troops from Abyei.

The area was a battleground during Sudan's long north-south civil war, which ended with a peace agreement in 2005.

South Sudan voted to split from the north in a January 2011 referendum that stemmed from the peace deal. Abyei was scheduled to decide on the same day on whether to join the north or the south, but that referendum failed to happen because the sides could not agree on who was eligible to vote.