Tribal clashes in Sudan leave 170 dead in 2 days

Tribal clashes in southern Sudan’s Blue Nile province have claimed 170 lives in the past two days, two Sudanese officials said on Thursday, the latest in inter-community violence in the country’s neglected south.

The officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the fighting began on Wednesday and there were no reports that the fighting had stopped.

The province has been rocked in recent months by ethnic violence. Tribal clashes that erupted in July killed 149 people in early October and last week new clashes killed another 13 people, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA.

The July fighting involved the Hausa, a tribe native to all of West Africa, and the Berta people after a land dispute. On Thursday, a group representing the Hausa said it had been attacked by individuals armed with heavy weapons in the past two days.

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The group released a statement calling for a de-escalation and an end to the “genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Hausa”. The tribe has long been marginalized in Sudanese society, with the violence in July sparking a series of Hausa protests across the country.

OCHA had no confirmation of the latest wave and casualties, but said the violence had displaced at least 1,200 people since last week.

Earlier in the day, the UN agency said tribal clashes in neighboring West Kordofan province that erupted last week had left 19 people dead and dozens injured. A shootout between the Misseriya and Nuba ethnic groups broke out amid a land dispute near the town of Al Lagowa, OCHA said.

The governor of West Kordofan state visited the city on Tuesday to speak with local residents in a bid to defuse the conflict before it came under artillery fire from a nearby mountainous area, OCHA said. No casualties of artillery fire were reported.

Sudanese children stand inside the loaded remains of a house that was destroyed during ethnic clashes in the city of Roseires, southeastern Sudan, Aug. 8, 2022.
(Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images)

“Fighting in West Kordofan and Blue Nile states is likely to cause further displacement and human suffering,” OCHA said.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese army accused the North Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, a rebel group active in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, of being behind the attack on Al Lagowa. The rebel group did not respond to the accusation.

Violence in West Kordofan has prompted some 36,500 people to flee Al Lagowa, while many of those who remained sought refuge at the town’s military base, OCHA added. The area is currently inaccessible to humanitarian aid, the agency said.

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Eisa El Dakar, a local journalist from West Kordofan, told the AP last week that the conflict is partly rooted in the two ethnic groups’ conflicting claims to local land, with the Misseriya being primarily a herding community and the Nuba mostly farmers.

Much of Kordofan and other parts of southern Sudan have been rocked by chaos and conflict over the past decade.

Sudan has been in turmoil since a coup last October that toppled the country’s brief democratic transition after three decades of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir. He was overthrown in a popular uprising in April 2019, paving the way for a civil-military power-sharing government.

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Many analysts see the increase in violence as a product of the power vacuum in the region caused by last October’s military coup. The violence has also crippled Sudan’s already struggling economy, compounded by fuel shortages caused, in part, by the war in Ukraine.

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