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Sudan official: Death toll in Darfur clashes rises to 132

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CAIRO — The death toll from tribal violence in Sudan’s restive Darfur region has climbed to 132 as looting continued on Thursday, a local Sudanese local official 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, the U.N said earlier.

Fighting ensued between the Rizeigat and the Masalit tribes, with both mobilizing armed men and prompting authorities to declare a state of emergency in West Darfur.

Governor of West Darfur Mohamed Abdullah al-Doma said that along with 132 people killed, at least 208 have been wounded.

“I want to commend West Darfour, namely Genena residents, for their endurance of very hard circumstances two days ago when shells and bullets were flying everywhere,” Doma told reporters at a news conference in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum.

He added that the shooting has now stopped but that looting continues on the edges of the province.

Also Thursday, António Vitorino, head of the International Organization for Migration, condemned the latest escalation of violence in Genena, stressing concerns over reports of attacks on women and children, as well as humanitarian facilities.

Earlier this year, tribal violence in West Darfur and South Darfur provinces killed around 470 people. It also displaced more than 120,000, 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.

Doma blamed the violence on “well-known militias” that were trained and armed by al-Bashir’s government. They have not been disbanded or disarmed, and seize any tribal conflict to kill and steal, he said, adding that Chadian militias had crossed into Darfur and engaged in this latest episode of violence. He did not elaborate on his claim and there was no immediate comment from Chad.

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 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.

Doma, the West Darfur governor, criticized the central government in Khartoum for not heeding his calls for reinforcements in Darfur.

“More forces should be sent over because the local ones do not have the resources to handle the situation,” Doma said. “Darfur citizens are left on their own to face their destiny.”

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