Sudan tribal violence kills nearly 200 in Blue Nile province

Latest violence pits the Hausa tribe against the Berta people, adding to the country's woes

People inspect a ransacked building after tribal clashes in July in Sudan's Blue Nile state. Fresh clashes between the Berti and Hausa tribes have resulted in hundreds of deaths. AFP
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Tribal violence in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile province this week has left at least 187 people dead, the local health minister told state television on Sunday.

The minister, Gamal Nasser, did not go into details of the fighting, but urged the central government in Khartoum to dispatch a military plane to take the wounded to the capital for medical treatment.

He did not say how many people were wounded in the fighting, but unofficial reports put the number at more than 200.

It was one of the deadliest bouts of tribal violence in Sudan in recent years, deepening the woes of the religiously and ethnically diverse nation.

The unrest comes ahead of the first anniversary of a military coup that derailed Sudan’s democratic transition, plunged the country into an economic crisis and created a power vacuum that allowed the resurgence of tribal and ethnic violence in its outlying regions.

The latest fighting in Blue Nile pits members of the Hausa tribe, whose origins are in West Africa, against members of the Berta people. Their dispute is about land, the traditional cause for most tribal and ethnic clashes across the country.

Tension between the two sides escalated on Wednesday and Thursday in the town of Wad El Mahi on the border with Ethiopia, according to local officials.

Media and opposition reports spoke of a higher death toll — as many as 220 — and said the figure was likely to rise when medical teams reach the site of the fighting.

Video footage from the scene of the fighting and shared online appears to show torched houses and charred bodies. Images also showed women and children fleeing the fighting on foot.

The UN in Sudan said the fighting had displaced 7,000 people, who found refuge in the Blue Nile city of Roseras and other neighbouring states.

The official Sudan news agency Suna said local authorities ordered a night-time curfew in Wad El Mahi and deployed troops in the area.

A fact-finding committee to investigate the clashes was also established, said Suna.

Fighting between the Hausa and Berta tribes first erupted in mid-July, amid violent protests in Blue Nile and other provinces.

Updated: October 23, 2022, 12:59 PM