JUBA: A spate of attacks in a disputed region claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan has left 32 people dead including a UN peacekeeper, local officials said.

A government representative for Abyei, a contested oil-rich territory straddling the border of both countries, condemned the attacks that occurred early Sunday in two counties by armed militias and soldiers wearing uniforms of South Sudan’s national army.

“In these attacks, 32 people were killed including women and children burned into their huts, and more than twenty (20) people wounded,” said Bulis Koch Aguar Ajith, information minister for Abyei, and South Sudan’s spokesman for the region, in a statement issued late Sunday.

“Also killed is one UNISFA solider and one injured” the statement said, referring to the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, without providing details.

He said the latest “barbaric attacks on civilians” were a continuation of deadly violence that broke out last week in the region.

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South Sudan called for an urgent investigation into the attacks.

Located between Sudan and South Sudan, Abyei has been a flashpoint since the South gained independence in 2011.

A regional UN envoy expressed concern earlier this month that fighting between the forces of two generals vying for power in Sudan was drawing closer to the country’s border with South Sudan and Abyei.

Hanna Tetteh, the UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa, said Abyei’s proximity to the fighting between Sudan’s rival forces threatened to destabilise the already fragile region and its sometimes volatile local dynamics.

She also said the Sudan crisis had “effectively put on hold” talks between leaders from both countries over Abyei’s long-disputed status.

The Security Council this month voted unanimously to extend the 12-year-old UN peacekeeping mission in Abyei which currently comprises some 4,000 military and police personnel.

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