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Tribal Clashes Kill More Than 50 in Sudan’s West Darfur State

West Darfur, Sudan map
West Darfur, Sudan map

Authorities in Sudan say at least 50 people are dead and more than 100 others injured after three days of clashes between ethnic groups in West Darfur. Sudan's military has vowed to restore peace to the region.

The clashes between Arab and Masalit tribes began a few days ago in El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state.

The government declared a state of emergency in West Darfur Monday after the clashes continued for a third day.

The Committee of West Darfur Doctors confirmed the death toll and called on the government to secure access for the committee to collect full figures.

According to Khalid Shogar of Committee of West Darfur Doctors, the committee counted 50 people killed in the violence, with the death toll reaching 132 people. Others killed and injured the committee couldn’t count as a result of access being restricted due to the bad security situation, he added.

The fighting started when two young men from the Masalit tribe were killed Saturday. Militia fighters from Masalit and Arab tribes fought in El Geneina, using heavy weapons and vehicles.

Sudan’s Security and Defense Council accused unnamed armed militias of fueling the conflict.

Defense Minister Major General Yassin Ibrahim said the government is taking steps to end the fighting.

Yassin said all of the security apparatuses have been authorized to resolve the tribal conflicts. He said a higher committee will be formed from local councils to deal with all of the breaches in the peace agreements. He said a third decision is to implement laws for security forces to help control the fighting in legal ways, along with a monopoly in weapons usage by the government, and continued weapon collection from the citizens.

The conflict in Darfur broke out in 2003 when the government of then-President Omar al-Bashir empowered Arab militias to fight rebel groups.

The conflict resulted in the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the displacement of more than two million people.

The transitional government that followed Bashir's ouster in April 2019 signed peace agreements with rebel groups.

Earlier this year, the conflict between Arab and non-Arab tribes in El Geneina flared up again, resulting in the death of 129 people and the displacement of 108,000.

Political analyst Abbas Mohamed worries renewed violence in Darfur could undermine the peace process in Sudan.

He said six months after the signing the peace agreement it became so obvious that the difficulties of sustaining peace were not only in the details but embodied in the resurgent tribal conflict in Darfur. Those epicenters of violence, he said, could undermine the peace process and prevent the U.N. peacekeeping mission from protecting civilians.

The International Criminal Court in The Hague has charged Bashir with war crimes and crimes against humanity for his treatment of civilians in Darfur. Bashir is in a Khartoum prison after a Sudanese court convicted him of corruption in late 2019.