The thousands of Sudanese civilians who fled Abyei last month are wary about returning because they doubt the staying power of the most recent agreement to bring peace.
Firsthand accounts and the ethnic makeup of people displaced by violence in Sudan's border region indicate civilians may have been the target of attacks by northern forces.
With the northern Sudanese military firmly in control of the disputed territory of Abyei, Abyei’s residents have fled to the nearby towns of Agok and Aniet.
South Sudan says the North is at risk of breaking a fragile 2005 peace deal that ended two decades of civil war.
According to South Sudanese leaders, the seizure of the strategic, oil-rich town of Abyei was a declaration of war by the northern government.
This week’s attacks underscore how the disputed, oil-rich border town of Abyei has been used as a lightning rod by political leaders in both northern Sudan and soon-to-be independent South Sudan.
Although some results from South Sudan's referendum still need to be made official, Sudanese and international observers are beginning to look ahead to what comes with independence.
Clashes over who controls the disputed border region of Abyei – and its oil – could greatly complicate South Sudan's move toward independence.