Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

Sudan: Armed Herders Burn Village of Voluntary Return in West Darfur

Mesteriha — Armed herders have reportedly injured five members of the armed forces and burnt the village of Ronja for voluntary return as well as two other villages to the ground, destroying crops and around 10 kilometers of agricultural lands, sources informed Radio Dabanga on Sunday, 9 December.

The locality of Mesteriha in West Darfur has witnessed a series of attacks which reportedly started on Friday and continued until Sunday evening. Sources from the area reported that the attacks started on Friday when farmers informed the police about trespassing of herders onto their farmlands.

'Herder killed in clashes'

They added that after receiving the farmers' reports the police, supported by the army, went to the farms and reportedly clashed with the herders when they opened fire on the police. The incident allegedly resulted in the death of one herder and the withdrawal of the rest of the herders.

The police evacuated the victim to the hospital in Mesteriha, but were attacked by the herders inside the hospital. Witnesses claim that the attack resulted in the injuring of the Mesteriha police chief and another police officer.

It was added that the herders seized a Duskha weapon and Kalashnikov rifle from the armed forces.

Moreover, witnesses revealed that the herders tried to storm the police station in Mesteriha on Saturday but police forces, backed by the army arriving from El Geneina, were able to repulse the attack.

It was reported that after the failed attempt to storm the police station, the herders attacked a truck en route from El Geneina and seized large quantities of sugar, flower and 22 thousand Sudanese pounds. They explained that the herders continued towards the village of Ronja for voluntary return near Mesteriha, and assaulted villagers before burning down the village.

Alleged perpetrators arrested

On the other hand, witnesses stressed that the commissioner Baida Mohamed Sharaf al Deen moved towards the burnt villages accompanied by eight police vehicles. They reported that three of the alleged perpetrators have been arrested in the meantime and taken to the police station in Mesteriha. The witnesses added that the commissioner accompanied the perpetrators, while the police officers stationed themselves in the burnt village of Runja for voluntary return.

Sources claim that the herders returned to the burnt villages and clashed with the police officers and armed forces on Sunday morning. It was added that the clashes resulted in the injuring of three members of the government forces.

Lastly, the witnesses stressed that the incidents caused widespread fear among residents in the area. They added that residents fear renewed attacks by herders on Mesteriha and neighbouring villages.

They added to Radio Dabanga that the incident has prompted residents to consider fleeing to Chad, in search of safety and protection.

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