Armed group attacks village in Sudan’s Darfur, says a tribal chief

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Armed men attacked a village in Sudan’s South Darfur province causing an unknown number of casualties, a tribal chief said Saturday, in the latest violence to strike the remote region.

“Armed men on Friday attacked the village of Oringa, south of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state,” Yaakoub Mohammad told AFP.

“They set fire to and looted homes and fired upon residents, but we don’t know the exact number of casualties,” he said.

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He added that three days earlier the group’s leader had come to the village with armed men to demand that residents leave.

The villagers in turn called the police who arrested the group leader and imprisoned him in Kass district, where he remains in custody.

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Sudan’s Darfur provinces – which cover an area similar to that of France, much of it desert – have been plagued by years of violence.

The regime of Omar al-Bashir, who was toppled in April last year, carried out counter-insurgency operations there from 2003 that resulted in the ex-president being indicted for genocide by the International Criminal Court.

Alongside the devastating civil conflict in Darfur, which dragged on for years, there has long been localized clashes over land and access to water, mainly pitting nomadic Arab pastoralists against crop-growing farmers from long marginalized ethnic groups.

A week ago, 500 armed men attacked the district of Masteri, killing over 60 people, the majority from the Masalit community, according to the UN. Eighty-eight were wounded.

That attack triggered panic among residents of Masteri and nearby villages.

Around 2,000 families, comprising around 10,000 people, fled towards El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, around 50 kilometers from Masteri.

Some 200 more families, comprising a further 1,000 people, crossed the border to Chad.

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced on July 26 that security forces would be deployed to Darfur to protect “citizens and the agricultural season.”

There has as yet been no subsequent indication that any deployment has gone ahead.

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