CAIRO (AP) — Sporadic tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs continued Tuesday in Sudan’s West Darfur province, as the death toll climbed to at least two dozen people, some of them burned to death, according to a local aid group working in the area.
Some of the 24 dead were children, said Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organization that helps run refugee camps in the area. He said at least 17 others were wounded.
The clashes, which erupted over the weekend, pose a challenge to efforts by Sudan's transitional government to end decadeslong rebellions in areas like Darfur. Rebel groups from Darfur have now suspended their peace talks with the government in response to the tribal clashes and called for an investigation.
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. A military-civilian government now rules the country. One if its key priorities has been ending the insurgencies in Sudan’s far-flung provinces in order to slash military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.
Regal shared footage showing burned properties, as well as graphic images of dead bodies and wounded people with blood-stained clothes. His aid group said looting and destruction of property by militias took place in at least three refugee camps in the town of Genena.
Sudan's ruling Sovereign Council said Monday they would deploy “sufficient” troops to the region to help contain the deadly clashes, which grew out of a skirmish between two people, one of whom, an Arab, was stabbed to death.
Activists and residents said the local government's nightly curfew was not being followed, and that sporadic clashes in Genena continued Tuesday.
Two Genena residents told The Associated Press that militias, mostly Arabs, roamed the streets in pickup trucks with mounted machine guns. The residents spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Regal accused Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of intervening in the fighting on the side of the Arab forces.
The deputy head of the Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, is also the commander of that paramilitary group.
Rights groups say Dagalo’s forces had, over the last decade, burned villages and raped and killed civilians during a series of counterinsurgency campaigns.
The Sudanese government and rebel faction signed a peace deal last week. It was hoped that that deal could could pave the way for peace agreements with more rebel groups.