At least 23 people have died in clashes between Dinka soldiers and Arab nomads near Sudan's north-south border in the contested Abyei region, said Sudanese government officials on Sunday.
A UN source, who didn’t confirm the number of those killed, said a large number of Misseriya attacked security sites in the oil-rich area of Abyei on Friday and Saturday.
Senior Misseriya official Mohamed Omer al-Ansary said his men were involved in clashes that left an unconfirmed number dead, but insisted that they were attacked first by southern soldiers.
Leading members of Abyei's Dinka Ngok tribe, linked with the south, told Reuters that Misseriya attacked civilians near Miokol village, 18km north of Abyei, killing at least one on Friday and an unknown number on Saturday.
Kuol, a Dinka, said the Misseriya had heard false reports that the Dinka were planning to hold their own referendum on Sunday and wished to intimidate voters.
Al-Ansary however said that Dinka soldiers attacked the nomads on Saturday to prevent them from feeding their livestock.
Meanwhile, Sudanese media reports say at least 49 people were killed and dozens injured in clashes between Misseriya and Dinka Ngok in Abyei on the eve of the referendum. According to preliminary information in the reports, the number of Dinkas killed is nine, while 40 Misseriya died.
The UN warned of a deteriorating situation in Abyei due to conflict between Misseriya in the north and Dinka Ngok in the south.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.