Tribal violence leaves 31 dead in Sudan's Blue Nile province

Local authorities declared nighttime curfew and ban on gatherings

Most of the violence took place in the Blue Nile city of Rosiris. Photo: Andalou Agency
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Tribal clashes reportedly sparked by the killing of a farmer in Sudan’s Blue Nile province have left 31 people dead and 39 wounded, the local government said in a statement late on Friday.

The statement said the violence began two days ago but reached a climax on Friday in the city of Rosiris, where 16 stores in the central market were damaged.

A joint contingent of army troops, police and members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has restored order and arrested an unspecified number of people suspected of involvement in the violence, the statement said.

An overnight curfew was declared with immediate effect in the cities of Rosiris and Damazin and an indefinite ban has also been slapped on “unnecessary” gatherings in the two cities, it added.

“The province’s security committee urges residents to abide by these rules and co-operate with security agencies so security is maintained and the outlaws and perpetrators are apprehended and brought to justice,” the statement said.

The National reached out to residents of Rosiris who said the clashes occurred between members of the rival Hawsa and Berti tribes. They also cited the killing of a farmer in the area as what had sparked the violence.

An AFP report from Khartoum, however, quoted a prominent member of the Hawsa as saying the violence broke out because his tribe was calling for “the formation of a local civil authority to supervise access to land”, but the Berti tribe refused.

A senior member of the Berti tribe said the group was responding to “a violation of the Berti lands” by the Hawsa.

“These lands are ours, so if we want to form a local authority, it will be composed solely of Berti and not Hawsa” members, the Berti tribe member said.

Sudan is an ethnically and religiously diverse country of 41 million people that has suffered a multitude of civil wars since independence in 1956. At present, Sudan is mired in a political and economic crisis that began when the military seized power in a coup last October and derailed the country’s fragile democratic transition.

The Blue Nile province is located in the south of the country and has for years been torn by fighting between government troops and rebels disgruntled by what they see as the monopoly on power and national resources by the Arabized north of the country.

Some rebel groups there and the country’s military signed a peace deal in October 2020, but security remains fragile to this day.

The latest violence comes weeks after a wave of tribal fighting in the restive Darfur region in western Sudan left hundreds dead, thousands injured and displaced tens of thousands.

Updated: July 16, 2022, 12:48 AM