Radio Dabanga (Hilversum)

10 January 2013

Sudan: Gunmen Enclose Capital, Burn Another Four Villages in North Darfur

Photo: IRIN
Armed men in Darfur (file photo).

Jebel 'Amer — Abbala gunmen have enclosed the capital of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, North Darfur, and burned another four villages in the vicinity on Thursday, 10 January, according to the local omda.

Noreen Abkar Ishaaq of the Khedera area, near al-Sref Beni Hussein, told Radio Dabanga that fighting continues in the region for the fifth consecutive day.

He claimed to still hear sounds of gunshots and to see large clouds of smoke rising from communities located near al-Sref Beni Hussein city.

Ishaaq is the omda of six villages and affirmed that four of those were burned. He gave Radio Dabanga the names of three of them: Dur Dur, Sugra, She'era.

The population of the four villages that were set ablaze has currently moved to the omda's Khedera, which on its turn has also been set on fire by Abbala men "riding horses".

Ishaaq affirmed these villagers decided not to abandon their homes, but predicted that another attack may happen at any time.

He told Radio Dabanga that no government officials have yet come to the region and complained about its "neglect".

Although "very high", exact death figures are still unclear, the omda said, adding he saw several bodies "lying around out in the open near creeks and valleys".

Ishaaq demanded that the government intervenes immediately and put an end to the killings and bury the dead.

Besides, he appealed to "all sides to listen to the voice of reason and stop the fighting".

Commissioner denies claims

At the same time, the commissioner of al-Sref Beni Hussein locality, Hussein Haroun, denied the claims made by omda in which he affirmed the capital is surrounded by Abbala gunmen.

He told Radio Dabanga the situation is "somewhat stable", except for some "small-scale attacks".

One of these attacks, he noted, occurred on Thursday at the Negay Jieja administrative unit (which consists of six of more villages), which was entirely burned down.

Also on Thursday, Osman Kibir, governor of North Darfur, issued a decision to send out troops to al-Sref Beni Hussein in order to "stabilize the situation and enforce the rule of law", Haroun reported.

In addition, security authorities and members of the state's government arrived at the locality to meet with different parties: all native administrations and delegations of the five states of Darfur and leaders of the fighting tribes, Abbala and Beni Hussein.

Both tribes' leaders committed to put an end to the clashes "in front of all of those present in the meeting", the commissioner affirmed.

Vital roads closed

Local citizens confirmed omda Ishaaq's reports that Abbala men cordoned off al-Sref Beni Hussein city on Thursday.

Additionally, they told Radio Dabanga that Abbala members closed down all vital roads leading to the locality's capital. These include the ones between al-Sref Beni Hussein and Saraf Omra and between Kabkabiya and Saraf Omra.

This led residents of Saraf Omra and of al-Sref Beni Hussein to face a sharp shortage of food, fuel and water. Besides, sick people cannot be treated and cattle are dying, as they cannot graze or drink water.

Onlookers said that several people are missing and that dozens of dead bodies are lying around out in the open, in the villages and by roads.

Fighting erupted in the gold mining area of Jebel 'Amer as a result of a dispute between members of the Arab tribes of Abbala and Beni Hussein on 6 January. Initial reports suggested that at least 60.000 workers fled the region in the first few days of clashes.

On Tuesday, Radio Dabanga reported that at least 20 villages had been burnt and that the fighting appeared to have expanded further than the gold mine area of Jebel 'Amer.

The day after, a total of 25 villages had been set on fire and the conflicting parties had reportedly received backup from communities from Central, South, West and parts of North Darfur.

Figures of the number of dead and wounded have remained unclear.

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