Sudan tribal leader killed in disputed Abyei region


A man from the Dinka tribe stands at a settlement outside the city center July 19, 2012 in Juba, South Sudan.


Paula Bronstein

A top tribal chief was killed in the Abyei region that is disputed by Sudan and South Sudan Saturday.

The death of the Dinka tribe leader Kual Deng Majok happened during a conflict with a rival tribe.

Majok and a companion were killed by members of the Misseriya, a branch of the  Baggara Arabs tribes that extend from western Sudan to Chad.

The Dinka tribe, numbering about 4.5 million, inhabits the Upper Nile region and are mostly a pastoral, cattle-herding people.

During the incident UN peacekeepers were also reportedly wounded.

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Abyei is inhabited by both the Dinka tribe, allied to South Sudan, and the Misseriya tribe, allied to Sudan.

Naturally the region is disputed by Sudan and its break-off state South Sudan.

The killing apparently occurred after a meeting between tribal leaders.

"The Misseriya targeted him after he had held a meeting in Abyei town with Misseriya leaders," a witness told Reuters.

"The Misseriya opened fire on his convoy and killed him and another person."

AFP reported that the tribal leader's convoy was driving through a Misseriya area when a confrontation broke out and gunfire exchanged.

The stand-off lasted for five hours, reported Al Jazeera.

It is believed the murder will further inflame tensions between the two tribes and complicate border negotiations that were left after South Sudan became a sovereign nation.

Abyei was going to hold a referendum in January 2011 on whether it would belong to Sudan or South Sudan but it was postponed after disagreements.