Thousands protest deadly tribal clashes in Sudan’s south

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Thousands of protesters gathered Sunday in front of army headquarters in the Sudanese city of Damazin, eyewitnesses said, protesting recent ethnic clashes in the country’s south that have killed 200.

Protesters “tried to enter the army headquarters” before “setting fire to the state government building,” resident Abdel Qader Ibrahim told AFP by phone from Damazin, the capital of Sudan’s southern Blue Nile state, which borders Ethiopia and South Sudan.

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At least two hundred people were killed in two days last week, official media said Saturday, after clashes broke out over reported land disputes between members of the Hausa people and rival groups.

Residents said homes and shops were set ablaze and that hundreds had fled intense gunfire.

“Hospitals are facing a huge shortage of medicine as the number of the injured increases,” the state’s Minister of Health Jamal Nasser told AFP on Sunday.

State governer Ahmed al-Omda Badi declared a state of emergency on Friday to quell some of the worst fighting in recent months.

From July to early October, at least 149 people were killed and 65,000 displaced in Blue Nile, according to the United Nations.

Protesters chanted, “Al-Omda must leave,” accusing the governer of failing to protect them, according to eyewitness Haram Othman.

The Hausa have mobilized across Sudan, claiming tribal law discriminates against them by preventing them from owning land in Blue Nile because they were the last group to arrive there.

Access to land is highly sensitive in the impoverished country, where agriculture and livestock account for 43 percent of employment and 30 percent of GDP, according to UN and World Bank statistics.

Sudan has been grappling with deepening political unrest and a spiraling economic crisis since a military coup last year led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

A surge in ethnic violence in recent months has highlighted the security breakdown in Sudan since the coup.

Nearly 600 people have been killed and at least 211,000 forced to flee their homes in inter-communal conflicts across the country since January, according to the UN.

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