Sudan's West Darfur state violence kills 43, UN says

Villages burnt and 1,000 homes destroyed in November 17 raid in Jebel Moon mountains area

Darfur has remained fraught with tension and plagued with bouts of violence. AFP
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At least 43 people have been killed in days of fighting between cattle herders in Sudan's troubled Darfur region in which more than 1,000 homes have also been torched, the United Nations said on Thursday.

There were unconfirmed reports that the violence involved gunmen using dozens of off-road vehicles, motorbikes and horses to raid the villages before they set houses on fire.

The government in Khartoum had no immediate comment on the violence, which broke out on November 17 between armed Arab herders in the rugged Jebel Moon mountains in West Darfur state near the Chad border, said Omar Abdel Karim, Sudan's local Humanitarian Aid Commissioner.

"Initial reports indicate that at least 43 people have been killed, 46 villages have been burnt and looted and an unknown number of people were injured due to ongoing fighting," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.

The majority of the 4,300 people affected by the violence have been displaced, it said. Mr Abdelkarim said some have fled west, seeking safety across the border in Chad.

It is not unusual for news of such incidents in far-flung corners of Sudan to take days to be publicised given the distances involved, the difficulty of verifying information and the security risks.

West Darfur governor Khamis Abdallah said the violence was sparked by "a dispute over camel looting" and that "military reinforcements have been sent to the area and the situation has stabilised".

The Jebel Moon mountain area is largely inhabited by communities of farmers and cattle herders, with an estimated population of about 66,500 people.

Darfur has remained fraught with tension and is plagued with occasional outbreaks of violence years after the anti-government insurgency by disaffected African residents ended in the 2000s.

At least 300,000 people were killed in the Darfur war and more than two million displaced, UN figures show.

Former autocratic leader Omar Al Bashir, whose 29-year rule was overthrown in April 2019, was indicted a decade ago by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.

The continuing violence is mostly between African tribesmen and Arab militiamen who once fought on the side of the Khartoum government against the rebels.

A UN peacekeeping mission ended its mandate in Darfur last year.

The transitional government in Khartoum signed a peace deal with several rebel groups in Darfur in October 2020, which failed to stop ethnic violence from erupting occasionally, with scores being killed or wounded.

Updated: November 25, 2021, 5:57 PM