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Iran Press TV

More than 80 people killed in militia attack on Sudan's West Darfur region

Iran Press TV

Sunday, 17 January 2021 3:29 PM

Violent clashes in Sudan's restive Darfur have left at least 83 people dead in the past 48 hours just weeks after a long-running peacekeeping mission ended operation.

"The death toll from the bloody events that occurred in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State, has risen since Saturday morning ... to 83 dead, and 160 wounded including from the armed forces," the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors was quoted by AFP as saying.

Sudanese authorities have imposed a state-wide curfew in West Darfur, while the Khartoum government dispatched a "high-profile" delegation to help contain the situation.

The violence reportedly started as a local dispute, before quickly morphing into broader fighting involving armed militias.

Sudan's state news agency, SUNA, citing a local doctors union, said that casualties are expected to increase as the fighting continues.

The union's local branch also "called for the securing of health facilities" and urged transport be made available for medics to assist the wounded.

On Sunday, the head of Sudan's ruling body, army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, met top security chiefs to discuss the violence.

A coordinating committee for IDP camp residents said in statement, "We have warned several times about the deteriorating security situation in Darfur ... as armed militias still pose a constant threat."

On Saturday, the governor of West Darfur declared a state of emergency, authorizing the use of force in order to stabilize the situation and imposing a curfew.

In late December, clashes in South Darfur state left at least 15 people dead and dozens wounded.

The violence has reportedly pitted the Massalit tribe against Arab nomads in El Geneina and quickly morphed into broader fighting involving armed militias in the area.

Human rights organization, the Darfur Bar Association, said in a statement that the latest violence was triggered when a member of the Massalit tribe stabbed a member of an Arab tribe.

The attack came just weeks after UN peace-keepers began withdrawing from the region.

On December 31, the hybrid United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) formally ended its operations in the region. It plans a phased withdrawal of its approximately 8,000 armed and civilian personnel inside six months.

The Sudanese government "will take over responsibility for the protection of civilians" in Darfur as UNAMID's mandate ended.

Brokering lasting peace in Darfur and other parts of Sudan is one of the main challenges facing military and civilian authorities sharing power following the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir last April.

Conflict broke out in Darfur in 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels rose up against Khartoum. Up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced, including more than 180,000 displaced in West Darfur, according to UN estimates.

Back then, the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum responded by recruiting and arming a notorious Arab-dominated militia known as the Janjaweed. The main conflict has subsided over the years but ethnic and tribal clashes still flare periodically,

Sudan is undergoing a rocky political transitional after the ouster of Bashir in April 2019 triggered by mass protests against his rule. Bashir, who is currently in custody in Khartoum, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged genocide and war crimes in Darfur perpetrated over a decade ago.



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