Clashes in Sudan’s restive Darfur leave at least 83 dead

Ongoing clashes in Sudan’s restive Darfur have killed at least 83 people in two days, state media said Sunday, just over two weeks after a long-running peacekeeping mission ended operations. The main conflict has subsided over the years but ethnic and tribal clashes still flare periodically, largely pitting nomadic Arab pastoralists against settled farmers from non-Arab ethnic groups. The violence often centres on land and access to water.

Saturday’s clashes initially pitted the Massalit tribe against Arab nomads in al-Geneina, about two weeks after the United Nations and African Union ended a 13-year peacekeeping mission in Darfur. Sudanese authorities have since Saturday imposed a state-wide curfew in West-Darfur, while the Khartoum government dispatched a ‘High-profile’ delegation to help contain the situation.

The violence morphed into broader fighting involving armed militias in the area, which left several buildings, including houses, scorched. “The death toll from militia attacks in al-Geneina yesterday reached 83,” the SUNA news agency said on Sunday, referring to the capital of West Darfur state and quoting the local branch of the country’s doctors’ union.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said on Twitter on Saturday he had ordered a “high-profile” delegation, including security services, be sent to West Darfur to follow up on the situation.

“The death toll from the bloody events taking place in the city of al-Geneina … has increased since Saturday morning … [to] 84,” CCSD, a local branch of the country’s doctors’ union, said in a statement on Twitter. “The bloody events which are still ongoing since Saturday morning (have) also left … 97 wounded,” local media said.

It plans a phased withdrawal of its approximately 8,000 armed and civilian personnel inside six months. The Sudanese government “will take over responsibility for the protection of civilians” in Darfur, UNAMID said, as its mandate ended.

By Karishma Gwalani

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