Sudan's Defense and Interior Ministers in North Darfur After Death of Six People in Tribal Dispute

Khartoum — Sudanese authorities in North Darfur state managed to contain a dispute in Mellit where six people have been killed and 12 wounded.

The incident triggered the arrival of defense and interior ministers to the region amid growing accusations against the state governor.

Women and children residents stand in line to be examined by doctors in Kassab camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP), in Kutum, North Darfur August 9, 2012. Gunmen surrounded a camp for displaced people in Kassab in North Darfur state, burnt down a police station and looted the main market (Reuters)

The clashes between the members of Berti and Al-Zayadia tribes in Mellit market was motivated by an exchange of accusations over the death of two people.

Mohamed Osman Ibrahim, Mellit commissioner stated that the quick intervention of police and army forces averted a tribal conflict in the region.

The Arab tribe of Al-Zayadia accused in a statement released Thursday accused the governor Osman Kibir of heavily arming the Berti people after recruiting them to form a militia force under his command.

Al-Zayadia Shoura Council said Kibir is accountable of the incident because he recruited the Berti under the umbrella of Popular Defense Forces and formed a militia called "Kibir's Army".

The statements said the members of this militia now loot people's properties with total impunity.

Besides this incident, North Darfur witnessed during the last two weeks a surge in violence in Kutum where IDPs camp of Kassab was attacked by gunmen after the killing of Alwaha district commissioner. Also armed men attacked the DRA premises and seized four vehicles.

After the armed dispute, Defense minister Abdel-Rahim Hussein and Interior minister arrived to El-Fasher where they held a series of meetings with the governor, the army and police officials before to meet the head of Regional Authority where they met its chairman Tijani Al-Sissi.

Following a meeting with the two ministers, North Darfur governor, Kibir, told the official SUNA that the situation in Mellit is under full control. He further said it was agreed to ban firearms in the cities except the regular forces. He stressed the ban includes the former rebel groups signatories of peace deal.

For his part, Interior minister Ibrahim Mahmoud praised the efforts undertaken by the government of North Darfur state to contain the recent security incidents and expressed his confidence that Kibir will continue to exert the needed efforts to maintain security and stability in the state.

Defense minister Abdel-Rahim said they were briefed about the recent developments in Mellit, El Fashir and Kutum. He also said they discussed with the army the ongoing efforts to deal with the rebel groups at the periphery of the state.

Reliable security sources said two delegations from Berti and Al-Zayadia tribes will travel to Khartoum to separately discuss with Sudanese officials ways to end the tribal tensions.

The incident highlights for the first times the growing frustrations over the activities of Berti militias developed by the governor Kibir. Different sources in the past mentioned the existence of this paramilitary group.

In a recent report "Forgotten Darfur: Old Tactics and New Players" published by Small Arms Survey, Claudio Gramizzi and Jérôme Tubiana explained that the Sudanese authorities now recruit African tribes to fight Darfur rebels.

The report said the government now seeks to "exploits the existing grievances" of African tribes - "such as the Bergid, Berti, Mima, and Tunjur- against the Zaghawa who are systematically labelled 'rebels' by local and national authorities."

Al-Zayada are among the Arab groups who refused in the past years to involve themselves in the government counter-insurgency strategy aiming to recruit Arab militias to fight the rebels.

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