Dozens of people were killed in clashes between two Arab tribes in Sudan’s troubled East Darfur state on Monday, a politician told AFP.
Fighting broke out between the Rezeigat and Maaliya groups around the Abu Karinka area of East Darfur state, the latest in a series of bloody ethnic and tribal conflicts in the region.
“The Rezeigat killed 60 people in their attack on the Maaliya and when the Rezeigat departed they left behind them 36 dead bodies and a number of wounded who have not been counted yet,” said Hamdan Tirab, a member of the state’s parliament for Abu Karinka, said by telephone.
Access to Darfur is strictly limited, so it is not possible to independently verify the toll.
Fighting “started at around 11:00 am (0900 GMT) and continued until dusk, and heavy weapons and government vehicles were used,” Tirab said.
A Rezeigat leader said on condition of anonymity: “We lost 40 of our men in the fighting that took place in the Abu Karinka area today, but I do not know how many were killed from the other side”.
The latest violence comes amid long-standing tensions between the two tribes over land ownership rights and allegations of cattle theft.
A government-initiated peace conference between the tribes in February ended without agreement.
Maaliya youth leader Azraq Hassan Humeida told AFP by phone the Rezeigat attacked Abu Karinka “using all kinds of heavy weapons, including rocket launchers”.
Tribesmen had been building up in the area before the fighting broke out, a resident of Abu Karinka said by phone.
“For three days, both tribes have been massing in the Abu Karinka area,” Musa Hamed said.
The United Nations said it was deeply worried by the violence.
“I am very concerned by this outbreak of fighting,” the U.N.’s interim humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Geert Cappelaere, said in a statement.
“I call on all parties to stop fighting immediately, exercise restraint to prevent further escalation, and support mediation efforts to resolve the underlying causes of this conflict.”
Darfur has been wracked by conflict since 2003, when ethnic insurgents launched a campaign against the Arab-dominated government of President Omar al-Bashir.
The conflict has cost 300,000 lives and forced some 2.5 million people to flee their homes, according to the U.N.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes in the region.
Rising criminality and disputes over resources in parts of the region have further destabilized Darfur.SHOW MORE