29 July 2013

Sudan: Tribal Violence Claims Dozens More Lives in Central Darfur

Central Darfur — Dozens more people have reportedly been killed and wounded as violent clashes between Misseriya and Salamat tribesmen in Central Darfur. Move into their second week.

Witnesses have told radio Dabanga that the sound of small arms, heavy machinegun fire and grenade explosions could again be heard around the cities of Garsila, Mukjar, Bundisi and Deleig. Apart from the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) fortifying security positions such as the market of Garsila, they report that no attempt has been made by the government to separate the warring tribes.

Tensions between the tribes have run high since and incident in Umm Dukhun in April, which escalated into running battles between about 4,000 tribesmen from both sides. A reconciliation conference was convened in Zalingei and on 1 July - in spite of sporadic flare-ups of violence between tribesmen - the omdas of the tribes announced they had "reached an agreement". However, the current hostilities are causing sources to question its viability.

The latest hostilities were sparked on Monday 22 June by an incident between tribesmen in Garsila market in which a Salamat trader died. The ensuing clash spread to Salamat neighbourhoods in the city before contingents of the SAF forced them to withdraw from the city itself.

The fighting continued outside the city, and figures gathered by Radio Dabanga suggest that at least 100 lives have been lost, with many injured on both sides.

As the violence moves into its second week, witnesses have reported that "dozens more have died and been injured" since Sunday evening, but exact figures are hard to confirm. Shops, schools and public institutions as well as markets remained closed in Garsila, Bundisi, Deleig and Mukjar, bringing public and civil life in Wadi Salih locality to a complete halt.

Reports of clashes are reaching Radio Dabanga from all over the outskirts of Garsila, with gunfire being audible throughout Wadi Salih locality "all day on Monday" fighting was reported to be particularly fierce in Faya and Baja to the south and east of Garsila. All regular goods and passenger transport on the main road between Garsila, Mukjar, Bundisi, Deleig and Umm Dukhun in Central Darfur, as well as the link to Foro Burunga in West Darfur, has stopped.

Witnesses say that feeling among civilian throughout the area in one of panic a dread as they fear the hostilities will return to the towns themselves. "Many inhabitants of the surrounding villages and farms have fled in fear of the proliferation of armed tribesmen.

The UNHCR has said that as result of the tribal battles 50,000 people sought refuge in Chad within a short period of time, terming it the "largest influx of refugees from Sudan into Chad since 2005".

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