'Revenge killing' leaves eight worshippers dead in Sudan

'Revenge killing' leaves eight worshippers dead in Sudan
Eight Sudanese worshippers were shot dead in a mosque in the country's Darfur region on Sunday evening, in what locals are describing as a 'revenge' attack following an earlier dispute.
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Gunmen shot worshipers as they were praying in a mosque [Getty]

Eight ethnic minority villagers were shot down by Arab tribesmen who attacked a mosque on Sunday, in what is understood to be a revenge killing in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region, a medic and a tribal leader said.

Five others were also wounded - among whom were two children - when the gunmen stormed the mosque in Arzini, West Darfur.

"There are eight bodies in the mortuary," a medic from the main hospital in West Darfur state capital Geneina told AFP.

"All have been killed by bullets to the head or chest," he said.

A prominent West Darfur tribal leader confirmed villagers were from the Masalit minority.

"There was a dispute between an Arab and a Masalit man over a payment in the local market yesterday (Sunday)," Sultan Saad Baherddin told AFP by telephone from Geneina hospital.

"In the ensuing quarrel, the Arab lashed the Masalit man with a whip, and he then stabbed the Arab to death with a knife."

Arab supporters of the dead man who condemned the attack gathered to demand compensation from the villagers of Arzini, Baherddin said.

"When the villagers failed to raise the hefty compensation during the day, gunmen attacked them in the evening when they were praying in the village mosque," he said.

"The armed Arab men just started shooting the villagers. Eight villagers have been killed in the attack."

Hundreds of relatives and supporters of the dead men gathered at Geneina hospital on Monday to take the bodies for burial, witnesses said.

"There is tension in Geneina. The authorities have deployed soldiers across the town's main streets," a resident said.

"The authorities have ordered the town's main market to be closed, and government offices have been shut for the day."

Darfur has been gripped by conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated regime of President Omar al-Bashir.

Bashir launched a brutal counterinsurgency and at least 300,000 people have been killed, the United Nations says. Another 2.5 million have fled their homes.

Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges related to Darfur, which he denies.