Dozens killed, including children, in West Darfur clashes

Dozens killed, including children, in West Darfur clashes
Dozens have been killed in West Darfur, including women and children, as tribal clashes continue.
3 min read
01 January, 2020
A child looks on as Sudan's prime minister visits a camp in North Darfur [AFP/Getty]

Fierce clashes between Arab and non-Arab tribes continued Tuesday in Sudan's West Darfur province as the death toll climbed to at least three dozen people, some of which burned to death, according to a senior health official and a spokesman for a local aid group working in the area.

Some of the 36 dead were children and women, said the official who works in the main hospital in the province. He said that around 60 others were wounded, and that 49 of them were taken to the capital, Khartoum for treatment.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

The clashes, which erupted over the weekend, pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan's transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur.

Rebel groups from Darfur have now suspended their peace talks with the government in response to the tribal clashes and called for an investigation.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April.

A military-civilian government now rules the country. One of its key priorities has been ending the insurgencies in Sudan's far-flung provinces in order to slash military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organisation that helps run refugee camps in the area, said looting and destruction of property by militias took place in at least three refugee camps in the town of Genena.

He shared footage showing burned properties to the ground, as well as graphic images of burned bodies and wounded people with blood-stained clothes. His group put the toll at 41 dead and more than 100 wounded.

Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council said Monday they would deploy "sufficient" troops to the region to help contain the deadly clashes, which grew out of a skirmish between two people, one of whom, an Arab, was stabbed to death.

Activists and residents said the local government's nightly curfew was not being followed, and that sporadic clashes in Genena reported earlier Tuesday.

Read more: Sudan opens Darfur crimes probe against Bashir

Two Genena residents told The Associated Press that militias, mostly Arabs, roamed the streets in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns.

By Tuesday evening, the violence was subdued amid heavy deployment of troops, enabling families to bury the dead and brought the wounded to hospitals. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Regal accused Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of intervening in the fighting on the side of the Arab forces.

General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the Sovereign Council, commands the paramilitary group, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed militias.

Rights groups say the RSF had, over the last decade, burned villages and raped and killed civilians during a series of counterinsurgency campaigns.

The Sudanese government and a rebel faction signed a peace deal last week. It was hoped that that deal could could pave the way for peace agreements with more rebel groups.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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