In a troubling incident on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Communication in the Abyei Special Administrative Area, Bulis Koch, revealed a distressing account of a dual attack.
The assault, orchestrated by both the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and armed youth from Warrap State’s Twic County, targeted the Abyei Area’s Rumamer and Alal counties, resulting in a devastating toll of 32 fatalities and 20 injuries.
Minister Koch, who also serves as the administrative area’s spokesperson, disclosed that among the casualties was a Ghanaian peacekeeper affiliated with the United Nations Interim Security Force Abyei.
Shockingly, four attackers were discovered dead in Malual Aleu, with an additional two found deceased following the clashes in Rumamer County.
The minister attributed Sunday’s aggression on the villages of Angot, Wincuei, and Nyiel in Abyei to armed Twic youth, commonly referred to as “Titweng.” He asserted that these youth were supported by SSPDF soldiers and a militia group under the command of Gai Machiek.
Detailing the confrontations, Minister Koch explained, “There was a confrontation on Sunday morning in two counties, but now it has calmed a little bit because UNISFA intervened and pushed back the SSPDF in Malual Village in Alal County, and the Titweng armed youth from Twic, together with their ally Gai Machiek, were repulsed too.”
The casualties, totaling 32 civilians, were distributed between Rumamer County, where 27 individuals lost their lives, including the former commissioner Mayot, and Malual Aleu village, where five others were killed, including the Ghanaian UNISFA soldier.
Additionally, 20 people sustained bullet injuries, with 18 in Rumamer County and 2 in Malual Aleu village.
Minister Koch assured that the wounded from both locations were receiving medical treatment at Abyei Hospital.
He also noted that the former commissioner of Rumamer County succumbed to a road ambush by Twic youth and their allied forces led by Gai Machiek in Wunpeth village.
Adding to the complexity of the situation, Gai Machiek and his militia are reportedly aligned with Gen. Stephen Buay Rolnyang, the leader of the rebel outfit South Sudan People’s Movement/Army (SSPM/A).
Minister Koch underscored the involvement of SSPDF in the attacks, citing a circulating video on social media that purportedly shows four soldiers dressed in civilian clothes found dead in Malual Aleu and two others in Rumamer, one of whom was in an SSPDF uniform.
In response, Gen. Akuei Ajou, the SSPDF Third Division commander, vehemently denied the army’s involvement, asserting the force’s commitment to professionalism and defense of the nation.
Accusing Abyei officials of attempting to draw him into the conflict, Gen. Ajou emphasized his role as a national officer and expressed reluctance to engage in tribal conflicts, citing personal losses of relatives in the Abyei conflict.
“I went to Ethiopia (to join the liberation struggle) because of civilians, now how can I turn around and kill them?” he queried, questioning the accusations leveled against him and the SSPDF.