Nine dead after Sudan militia attacks Darfur sit-in
The Sudanese transitional government has declared a state of emergency in North Darfur province in response to a new escalation in violence, which activists allege is state-sanctioned.
A number of sit-ins protesting continuing attacks on civilians despite a nominal ceasefire sprung up in recent weeks in Darfur and South Kordofan, marginalised regions long plagued by violence. Protest camps have also been set up in eastern Sudan.
On Monday morning, militiamen riding motorbikes, camels and horses stormed a protest camp in Fata Borno, North Darfur.
The armed men killed at least nine people and injured as many as 17 others, eyewitnesses told The Sudan Tribune and Radio Dabanga, alleging police failed to intervene to stop the brutal attack.
Locals also claim the militamen took part in looting and burned down the local market and a number of homes.
Officials have blamed the violence on "saboteurs" intent on destabilising security and reiginiting the Darfur conflict.
Activists and rebel groups say official paramilitaries are responsible.
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has been linked by witnesses to continuing rights violations and attacks on civilians in Sudan's conflict zones.
The RSF is an officialised offshoot of the Janjaweed, an ethnic Arab militia organised and armed by the state following a rebel insurrection in Darfur in 2003.
Janjaweed militamen have been accused of launching an ethnic cleansing campaign and taking part in mass rape and looting.
Human rights groups and Sudanese activists allege the RSF was responsible for the brutal dispersal of a Khartoum protest camp last year. More than 120 people were killed during the June raid.
"The attack on the sit-in [in Fata Borno] was carried out by the Janjaweed militia," said Mohamed Abdel-Rahman al-Nayer, spokesman for the Sudan Liberation Movement rebel faction, led by Abdul Wahid Al-Nur.
The attack came a day after protest leaders warned officials there was a plan by militias to violently disperse the sit-in, Yahya Al-Khums, leader of the local branch of the Forces for Freedom and Change, told Radio Dabanga.
A second sit-in in nearby Kutum was also violently dispersed, according to testimonies shared on social media. The New Arab could not confirm the details of the alleged attack.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay connected