Tribal clashes in Sudan kill three

A Sudanese official says tribal violence killed three people and wounded at least 79 others in the country’s east

The office of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said they would set up a force to protect hospitals. AFP 
The office of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said they would set up a force to protect hospitals. AFP 

Sudanese authorities said tribal clashes killed three people on Sunday and wounded at least 79 others, the latest in a series of outbursts of tribal violence that could derail the country’s transition to democracy.

Violence in the city of Kassala started on Thursday with fighting between the Bani Amer tribe and the Nuba tribe, according to Major General Mahmoud Babaker, the governor of eastern Kassala state.

Gen Babaker said clashes flared up again over the weekend, with many houses set on fire before authorities sent troops to restore order. At least 59 people were arrested. The three dead were members of the Bani Amer.

Tribal clashes across Sudan pose a significant challenge to efforts by the transitional government under the leadership of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to end decades-long rebellions in some areas. The country is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime autocrat president Omar Al Bashir last year. A military-civilian government is now in power.

The city of Kassala is around 400 kilometres east of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. Footage circulated online showed dozens of people fighting in the streets and burned houses sending thick clouds of heavy black smoke to the air.

In an address to the nation, Gen Abdel Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, said on Sunday the military and other security agencies would act decisively “to secure the country, lives and property”.

“We all would stand united against the plotters who are the enemies of the people … and the enemies of the people’s glorious revolution,” Mr Burhan said. He was apparently referring to Islamists and those loyal to the Al Bashir regime.

The violence came as authorities struggle to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Sudan’s healthcare system has been weakened by decades of war and sanctions. The country of 43 million people has at least 1,365 confirmed cases including 70 deaths.

Tensions between the Bani Amer and Nuba — mainly over water and other resources — started in May last year in the eastern city of Al Qadarif, where seven people were killed. The fighting was renewed in August in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan, killing more than three dozen people.

Last week, tribal clashes between Arabs and non-Arabs in the province of South Darfur left at least 30 dead and a dozen wounded, authorities said.

A key priority of Sudan’s military-civilian government 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. Rebel groups have for months engaged in talks with the transitional authorities to establish peace.

Updated: May 11, 2020 11:25 AM

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