By Hussein Hassan Ibrahim
KHARTOUM, May 21 (KUNA) -- Hundreds of families are fleeing the contested
region of Abyei and the United Nations is evacuating staff amid fears that a
full-scale war between the south and the north may be imminent.
Witnesses in the region reached by telephone told KUNA that waves of
civilians were seen fleeing the region and international peacekeepers hiding
in fortifications, amid eruption of armed hostilities and violence between
northern and southern forces.
Deng Arop, the governor of Abyei, said in a statement warplanes bombed
seven regions and ground fighting broke out between the pro-Khartoum forces
and policemen in the town of Todaj in Abyei.
The fighting over the past 24 hours prompted hundreds of civilians in the
region towns and villages to abandon their houses and get away, he said.
Charles Abyei, the chairman of the legislative assembly in the region, said
a number of people were killed in the latest fighting, and expected a major
incursion from the north, indicating at troop build-up on the northern side of
Paul Deng, the official spokesman of the southern Dinka Ngok tribe, said
the fighting left 32 people and 35 others wounded, and confirmed that the UN
was evacuating its staff from the contested region.
A spokesman of the southern army has accused the Khartoum government forces
of attacking the region with aircraft and artillery.
Tension has been high in the oil-rich region since January when a public
referendum on destiny of the south was held in Sudan.
The destiny of Abyei should have been determined with a simultaneous
referendum, however it was indefinitely delayed due to disputes over voting
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