Tribal clashes in Sudan’s restive Darfur region killed at least 48 people last week, a refugee official said Wednesday, the latest round of inter-communal violence to hit Sudan’s neglected peripheries.
The fighting is the first reported large-scale tribal violence in Darfur since August — even as eruptions of tribal clashes over the past months have killed more than 350 people in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile province.
The clashes between the Misseriya and the Rezeigat tribesmen erupted near the village of Juguma in Central Darfur last Wednesday, following an armed robbery, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA. Some 24 of the victims were killed on Saturday after unknown gunmen opened fire on people trying to mediate the conflict, OCHA said.
Thousands of people have fled to the neighboring village of Tuktuka, mostly women and children, OCHA added.
On Sunday authorities in Central Darfur a one-month state of emergency and imposed a nighttime curfew. Aid workers have been evacuated from the area and assistance operations have been suspended.
Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in Darfur, told The Associated Press that the death toll from last week’s clashes is likely higher.
The increase in violence across the south and west of Sudan comes as the country’s ruling generals and the main factions of the sprawling pro-democracy movement are engaged in internationally backed trying to revive the country’s democratic transition.
Sudan has been plugged into turmoil since the country leading military figure, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, led a coup in October 2021 that upended the country’s short-run democratic transition following three decades of autocratic rule by Omar al-Bashir.
In a statement Wednesday, The Forces for the Declaration of Freedom and Change — an alliance of Sudan’s main pro-democracy groups — said it was expecting to sign a preliminary framework agreement with the military in the coming days, in a step toward ending the 13-month political impasse.
Sudan’s military did not immediately respond to AP’s request seeking details on the agreement.
Last month, the two sides reportedly agreed verbally to a new draft constitution for a transitional period that would allow for a civilian-led government to lead Sudan to elections by 2024. However, several key issues remained, including the future role of Sudan’s various armed forces.
Analysts see the violence and growing insecurity in Sudan’s far-flung regions as a product of the power vacuum caused by the military takeover, with the ruling generals’ clampdown focused on the capital, Khartoum, and the country’s heartland.