The United Nations has dispatched a long range military patrol to help defuse tensions and reduce chances of reprisal attacks at the site of deadly ethnic clashes in Southern Sudan where Government and separatist forces fought a two-decades-long war until a peace accord in 2005.
The patrol from the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) will also prepare for the arrival of humanitarian assessment teams following reports that more than 139 mainly Dinka people were killed, 91 injured and 30,000 cattle looted, the latest in a series of ethnically-based incidents in the region.
UNMIS has authorised additional troops to conduct short range patrols in the region as a deterrent to any potential clashes, spokesman Martin Nesirky told a news briefing in New York.
There has been a rise in attacks across the region since the beginning of last year with tribal militias attacking villages and killing numerous civilians.
At least 2 million people were killed and 4 million others uprooted over the 20 years of fighting between southern separatists and the national Government in the north until the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005. At that time the UN Security Council set up the 10,000 strong UNMIS to help the parties implement the accord, which provides for a referendum on independence for the south next year.