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'Clash' in contested Abyei as S. Sudanese celebrate

AFP , Monday 9 Jul 2012
Smoke rises from burnt homes in Abyei town. (Photo: Reuters)
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 A clash broke out on Monday in the disputed territory of Abyei when South Sudanese celebrated their first independence anniversary, a source familiar with the incident said.

There were no injuries but a shop was burned and United Nations peacekeepers had to intervene to stop the unrest in Abyei town between members of the Dinka and Misseriya communities, said the source, who requested anonymity.  "When South Sudanese were celebrating, the Misseriya came," he said.

"It is a small clash between the two communities," the source said. The status of Abyei was the most sensitive matter left unresolved before South Sudan's independence on July 9 last year.

After fighting along the disputed border between Sudan and South Sudan in March and April this year, the UN Security Council ordered a ceasefire and called on the two sides to resume talks on critical issues, including Abyei.   Following the latest round of talks which closed on Saturday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, chief mediator Thabo Mbeki praised the two sides for their renewed commitment to peace.

Under the UN resolution both countries also withdrew their armed forces from Abyei. Sudan's army had partly occupied the territory in May last year.  The nomadic and Arab Misseriya are historically allied to Khartoum.

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