CAIRO (AP) – The death toll of tribal violence in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region rose to 132 as looting continued on Thursday, a local Sudanese official said.
The violence challenges efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where conflict is often raced along ethnic lines.
The latest clashes stemmed from a shootout on Saturday that killed two people from the Masalit tribe in a camp for internally displaced people in Genena, the capital of West Darfur province, the UN said earlier.
Fighting broke out between the Rizeigat and Masalit tribes, which both mobilized armed men and prompted the authorities to declare a state of emergency in West Darfur.
West Darfur Governor Mohamed Abdullah al-Doma said that with 132 people killed, at least 208 were injured.
“I want to congratulate West Darfur, namely the people of Genena, for their endurance under very difficult circumstances two days ago when shells and bullets were flying everywhere,” Doma told reporters at a conference. press release in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.
He added that the shooting had now stopped but that looting continued on the outskirts of the province.
Also on Thursday, António Vitorino, head of the International Organization for Migration, condemned the latest escalation of violence in Genena, highlighting concerns over reports of attacks on women and children, as well as humanitarian facilities.
Earlier this year, tribal violence in the provinces of West Darfur and South Darfur killed an estimated 470 people. It has also displaced more than 120,000, mostly women and children, including at least 4,300 who have passed through neighboring Chad, according to the UN.
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 2019. A military-civilian government is now ruling the country.
Doma blamed the violence on “well-known militias” that were trained and armed by the al-Bashir government. They have not been disbanded or disarmed, and take over any tribal conflict to kill and steal, he said, adding that Chadian militias had entered Darfur and engaged in this latest episode of violence. He did not give details of his claim and there was no immediate comment from Chad.
The conflict in Darfur erupted when rebels from the territory’s Central and Sub-Saharan African ethnic community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining about the oppression of the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum.
Al-Bashir’s government responded with a campaign of aerial bombardments on scorched earth and unleashed militias known as the janjaweed, accused of massacres and rape. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes.
The International Criminal Court has charged al-Bashir, who has been in prison in Khartoum since his ouster in 2019, of war crimes and genocide for allegedly orchestrating the campaign of attacks in Darfur.
Doma, the governor of West Darfur, criticized the central government in Khartoum for ignoring its calls for reinforcements in Darfur.
“More forces should be sent because local forces do not have the resources to handle the situation,” Doma said. “The citizens of Darfur are on their own to face their fate.”