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Sudan Tribune

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Ethiopia deplores slaying of UN peacekeeper, tribal leader

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

May 7, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian government on Tuesday condemned the killing of an Ethiopian peacekeeper and a tribal leader in the contested Abyei region, which is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan.

FILE - People from the Misseriya tribe of the Abyei oil region protest against the proposal of African Union (AU) mediator former South African president Thabko Mbeki for a referendum to decide whether the region belonged to Sudan or South Sudan, outside the United Nations (U.N.) and AU headquarters in Khartoum November 28, 2012.  (Reuters/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
FILE – People from the Misseriya tribe of the Abyei oil region protest against the proposal of African Union (AU) mediator former South African president Thabko Mbeki for a referendum to decide whether the region belonged to Sudan or South Sudan, outside the United Nations (U.N.) and AU headquarters in Khartoum November 28, 2012. (Reuters/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah)
The Ethiopian peacekeeper and the paramount chief of the Ngok Dinka, Kuol Deng Kuol, were killed on Saturday after the a convoy they were travelling in under the escort of the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA) was ambushed by members of the rival nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe.

Two other peacekeepers were also seriously wounded in the attack, with one of the injured soldiers later passing away.

“The Ethiopian government condemns, in the strongest possible terms, the murders and attacks targeting Ethiopian peacekeepers”, Dina Mufti, spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs, told Sudan Tribune.

Mufti said the unfortunate incident should not jeopardise the recent agreements signed between Juba and Khartoum, particularly on the resumption of oil exports.

There are over currently 4,000 Ethiopian peacekeepers deployed in the flashpoint border zone between Sudan and South Sudan, where they are tasked with monitoring peace and operations for demilitarisation.

The senior government official underlined that the incident would not prevent Ethiopian peacekeepers from carrying out their mission in the region, affirming that Ethiopia will continue to act as a credible partner for both Sudan and South Sudan.

The African Union and the US government have also condemned the attack, which occurred on the same day as a meeting held between members of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC).

The deaths have outraged Abyei’s Ngok Dinka community, with South Sudan accusing the Sudanese government of being behind the killings.

Widespread protests erupted in Juba on Tuesday, with demonstrators calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice amid fears the incident could trigger further violence in the volatile region.

Addis Ababa has called on governments of both Sudan and South Sudan, as well as the Dinka and Misseriya communities to exercise maximum restraint to avoid escalating tensions in the region.

(ST)