(CNN) — Four United Nations peacekeepers were killed Tuesday in Sudan’s contested region of Abyei when a landmine exploded during a patrol, the United Nations said. Seven more persons were injured, the U.N. said.
The peacekeepers, all Ethiopians, were part of the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei and were patrolling Mabok, southeast of the town of Abyei, the United Nations said.
In a statement, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed condolences to the families of those killed, as well as to the Ethiopian government. He was also concerned about the well-being of those injured by the detonated mine.
The United Nations deployed more than 500 troops, all from Ethiopia, to the interim security force in June after violence in Abyei and surrounding areas forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.
Abyei is a region under dispute between Sudan and the newly formed country of South Sudan, and was a battleground for decades in the brutal civil war fought between northern and southern forces. A referendum on whether the area should be part of the north or the South has been delayed over disagreement over who is eligible to vote.
The region, the size of Connecticut, is home to the Ngok Dinka people, who are closely allied with the South, but the area also serves as grazing grounds for northern Misseriya tribes.