Fighting between two Arab tribes has killed 100 people in Sudan’s Darfur region, where hundreds had already died in worsening unrest this year, one of the combatants said on Sunday.
The battle between a group of Rezeigat and the rival Maaliya tribe happened near Adila in East Darfur state on Saturday.
“We clashed with Maaliya... and we destroyed a compound of theirs and killed 70 of them,” said a Rezeigat source, who declined to be named.
“We lost 30 of our men.
“There is still high tension and men from both sides are gathered,” the source said.
Both tribes said the fighters used Land Cruiser vehicles, while the Maaliya accused their opponents of employing “heavy weapons” -- a common allegation in Darfur’s tribal fighting.
A Maaliya source said the Rezeigat “attacked” and burned villages but he declined to say how many from his side had died.
“We still expect more fighting today,” the source said, claiming that the Maaliya “killed 40” of their adversaries.
Inter-tribal and inter-ethnic fighting has been the major source of violence in Darfur this year, where an estimated 300,000 people were displaced in the first five months alone, the African Union-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says.
East Darfur had been relatively free from the tribal violence, much of which has occurred in Darfur’s north and west.
Late last month in North Darfur state, another branch of the Rezeigat inked a peace deal to end a separate conflict with rival Arabs from the Beni Hussein group.
A member of parliament said their battles killed hundreds over several weeks.
In another conflict, the Misseriya and Salamat Arab tribes less than two weeks ago announced that they had reached a tentative ceasefire after fighting which one of them said had killed more than 200 people.
These battles reflect the altered dynamics of a decade-old conflict in which, observers say, the government can no longer control its former Arab tribal allies known as Janjaweed.
With the situation changing, the United Nations Security Council called last month for a review of the UNAMID peacekeeping mission.
Non-Arabs in Darfur began a rebellion 10 years ago against what they saw as the domination of Sudan’s power and wealth by Arab elites.
In response, the government-backed Janjaweed militia shocked the world with atrocities against them.
Although the rebellion continues, analysts have warned since at least 2010 that relations were souring between Khartoum and the Arab tribes it armed to fight the insurgency.
Tribal disputes have been driven by conflict over resources including land, water and mineral rights, observers say.
A Rezeigat source said the latest violence too is linked to a land dispute.
There had been tension between the Rezeigat and Maaliya for days. Their tribal councils had appealed for peaceful resolution of the land dispute, the Sudanese Media Centre, which is close to the security apparatus, reported last week.
Prior to this year’s surge of violence, there were already 1.4 million people in camps for those uprooted by the conflict in Darfur.
While the number of displaced has risen, the United Nations said last Tuesday that it has had to reduce its humanitarian assistance because permits for some UN international staff in Darfur have not been renewed by the government.
Permits for 20 of the 37 Darfur-based international staffers of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR), which provides emergency shelter and other aid, have not been extended, the UN said.
France condemned the “unjustified” expulsion of the 20 from Darfur.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by The Hague-based International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Darfur.
Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohammed Hussein is also sought by the court, on 13 counts of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the region.