CAIRO (AP) — The death toll from tribal violence in Sudan’s Darfur region climbed to at least 50 as sporadic clashes continued on Tuesday, a local medical group and aid worker said.
The violence poses a challenge to efforts by Sudan’s transitional government to end decades-long rebellions in areas like Darfur, where conflict often falls along ethnic lines.
The latest clashes grew out of a shooting on Saturday that killed two people from the Masalit tribe in a camp for displaced people in Genena, the capital of West Darfur province, according to the U.N. humanitarian affairs agency. Two others from the Masalit tribe were wounded in that shooting, it said.
Fighting ensued between the Rizeigat and the Masalit tribes, with both mobilizing armed men. Gunfire could still be heard in Genena late Monday, the U.N. said. Authorities have declared a state of emergency in West Darfur.
The Sudanese doctors’ committee in West Darfur, said that at least 132 people were wounded in the clashes, with some of them needing to be evacuated to the capital, Khartoum, for more advanced medical care. It also said that medical workers were facing difficulties in transporting the wounded due to the presence of armed groups.
Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, said there were sporadic clashes on Tuesday, after relative calm overnight.
The U.N. said Monday that all humanitarian activities were suspended as roads around the southern part of Genena were blocked. It said more than 700,000 people have been affected by the clashes, since Genena serves as a hub for aid delivery to the conflict-wrecked region.
Violence in Darfur often falls along religious and ethnic lines, with tribes claiming Arab heritage, like the Rizeigat, fighting with those of African descent, such as the Masalit.
Earlier this year, tribal violence in West Darfur and South Darfur provinces killed around 470 people. It also displaced more than 120,000 people, mostly women and children, including at least 4,300 who crossed into neighboring Chad, according to the U.N.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime autocratic President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. A military-civilian government now rules the country.
The Darfur conflict broke out when rebels from the territory’s ethnic central and sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency in 2003, complaining of oppression by the Arab-dominated government in the capital Khartoum.
Al-Bashir’s government responded with a scorched-earth campaign of aerial bombings and unleashed militias known as janjaweed who are accused of mass killings and rapes. Up to 300,000 people were killed and 2.7 million were driven from their homes.
The International Criminal Court charged al-Bashir, who has been in jail in Khartoum since his 2019 ouster, with war crimes and genocide for allegedly masterminding the campaign of attacks in Darfur.