At least 40 people have been killed and 58 injured in tribal clashes since Saturday in El-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, the latest deadly violence in the troubled western Sudanese region, the United Nations said Monday.
“Since April 3, 40 people have been killed in recent clashes between the Al-Massalit and Arab tribes. The situation remains tense in the town of El-Geneina,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement.
“The government’s humanitarian aid commission reports 58 injuries,” it added.
Earlier in the day, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, a body founded in 2016 to represent the medical community, had announced a provisional death toll of 18 and 54 injured.
As of “late afternoon,” gunfire could still be “heard” particularly in the Hay al-jabal and al-Jamarik neighborhoods, according to the UN.
Eyewitnesses told AFP that clashes were still going on at 3pm local time (13:00 GMT).
“We stayed at home but we hear gunshots nearby and a grenade landed in our neighbor’s house,” Adam Issa, a resident of southwestern El-Geneina, said by phone.
“I live in the eastern part of the city and I see a cloud of smoke covering the western, southern and southwestern neighborhoods,” said Saleh Issa, another witness.
“Some of the residents of these areas including a majority of women and children, have fled” to the east, he added.
Other tribal clashes took place in January in Darfur, killing more than 200 people, a little more than two weeks after the end of the joint UN-African Union peace mission (UNAMID). El-Geneina paid the highest price with more than 100 dead, 132 injured and 108,000 displaced, according to OCHA.
The “humanitarian operations and flights have been suspended” until further notice in the city, which represents a hub of humanitarian aid in the region, affecting “more than 700,000 people”, said the UN.
According to the same source, the clashes started after two people died and two others were wounded when a man shot at members of the Al-Massalit tribe who were towing their car to El-Geneina on Saturday.
The conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 between forces of the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, who is to be deposed in April 2019 under pressure from the street, and members of ethnic minorities who feel marginalized.
The violence has left some 300,000 people dead and more than 2.5 million displaced, mostly in the early years of the conflict, according to the UN.
The transitional government, established after the fall of Omar al-Bashir, signed a peace agreement in October with several rebel groups, particularly from Darfur. But some insurgent groups in that region have not signed the peace agreement.