New crisis hits oil-rich Sudan town

ABYEI, Sudan - Thousands of civilians fled clashes between Sudan's former north-south civil war enemies in the oil-rich central town of Abyei yesterday, officials said.

ABYEI, Sudan - Thousands of civilians fled clashes between Sudan's former north-south civil war enemies in the oil-rich central town of Abyei yesterday, officials said.

The clashes, sparked by a local dispute, have highlighted the tension in an area claimed by both Khartoum and South Sudan.

More than three years after a 2005 peace deal, they have not agreed on borders or a local government for the region. Sporadic gunfire could be heard on the second day of clashes and smoke rose from the town.

"Most of the civilians have left town. There are about 250000 east of Abyei," said Malony Tong, a local official from the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). "It is not calm."

About 50 civilians sought refuge at the gates of the UN. - Sapa

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