map of Abyei, includes Kiir River
map of Abyei, includes Kiir River

JUBA - Officials in the disputed area of Abyei on the border between South Sudan and Sudan say five people have been killed in clashes between residents and Arab Misseriya nomads.

Deng Mading, who chairs the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) told reporters in Juba that members of a pro-Khartoum Misseriya militia clashed with people at  a cattle camp in Gokmou, around 15 kilometers south of Abyei town, on Wednesday.

A toddler was among five people killed in the fighting, and a seven-year-old child was among the wounded, Mading said. One person has been unaccounted for since the clashes, he said.

"We don’t know whether he has run away or he has been killed and people have not recovered his body," Mading said.

Members of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) recovered some 150 head of cattle, which were reportedly rustled by the Misseriya during the attack.

The status of the 10,000-square-kilometer area of Abyei has been in dispute since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than 20 years of civil war in the once-unified Sudan.

South Sudan Sudan Disputed Region
Abyei residents wave South Sudanese flags after voting overwhelmingly in a referendum held in Oct. 2013 to join South Sudan.

Prized for its fertile land and oil reserves, Abyei is claimed by the north and south.

In a unilateral referendum held last year in the area, residents voted overwhelmingly to join South Sudan, but the vote was considered unofficial and Khartoum has contested its legitimacy.