The violence poses a challenge to efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where conflict often falls along ethnic lines.
The death toll from days of tribal clashes in Sudan's West Darfur has risen to 50, with 132 wounded, the West Darfur State Doctors' Committee said.
The latest clashes grew out of a shooting on Saturday that killed two people from the Masalit tribe in a camp for displaced people in el Geneina, the capital of West Darfur province, according to the UN humanitarian affairs agency.
Two others from the Masalit tribe were wounded in that shooting, it said.
The government declared a state of emergency in the state on Monday after three days of clashes in El Geneina. The United Nations said on Monday that at least 40 people had been killed and 58 injured.
The bloodshed is the latest in a resurgence of violence in the Darfur region since the signing of a peace agreement late last year and the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers.
Residents and an internal UN security bulletin seen by Reuters reported the use of heavy weaponry and rocket-propelled grenades, with pictures and videos from residents showing plumes of smoke rising from El Geneina neighbourhoods.
In January, at least 129 people were killed and 108,000 people remain displaced after similar clashes in El Geneina between members of the Masalit and Arab tribes.
Military reinforcements that had been brought into the city had since largely withdrawn, residents told Reuters.
🚨#FlashAlert Between 31 Mar and 2 Apr 2021, violent clashes erupted in As Serief town, #NorthDarfur.— IOM Sudan (@IOMSudan) April 6, 2021
Multiple individuals have been killed and injured, surrounding villages have been looted and burnt down. Large numbers of people have been displaced, numbers to be confirmed. pic.twitter.com/NkFkV5Yu0d
Humanitarian aid suspended
The Sudanese doctors’ committee in West Darfur, said that at least 132 people were wounded in the clashes, with some of them needing to be evacuated to the capital, Khartoum, for more advanced medical care. It also said that medical workers were facing difficulties in transporting the wounded due to the presence of armed groups.
Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, said there were sporadic clashes on Tuesday, after relative calm overnight.
The UN said Monday that all humanitarian activities were suspended as roads around the southern part of El Geneina were blocked. It said more than 700,000 people have been affected by the clashes, since El Geneina serves as a hub for aid delivery to the conflict-wrecked region.
Violence in Darfur often falls along religious and ethnic lines, with tribes claiming Arab heritage, like the Rizeigat, fighting with those of African descent, such as the Masalit.
Earlier this year, tribal violence in West Darfur and South Darfur provinces killed around 470 people. It also displaced more than 120,000 people, mostly women and children, including at least 4,300 who crossed into neighboring Chad, according to the UN.
There have been bouts of bloodshed in Darfur since conflict broke out in 2003 when the government of Omar al-Bashir armed militias to help repress a revolt.
Al-Bashir’s government responded with a scorched-earth campaign of aerial bombings and unleashed militias known as janjaweed who are accused of mass killings and rapes. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes.
The International Criminal Court charged al-Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since his 2019 ouster, with war crimes and genocide for allegedly masterminding the campaign of attacks in Darfur.
Brokering lasting peace there and in other parts of Sudan has been one of the main challenges facing the authorities since the overthrow of Bashir in April 2019.
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