August 14, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Heavy firefighting erupted on Tuesday’s night between an unknown armed group and government forces in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, in the latest sign of increased insecurity in Sudan’s western region.
Eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune that the armed clashes took place around midnight in Al-Sika Hadid, or railways neighborhood, where unknown gunmen “dressed in military uniforms” exchanged heavy fire with government forces, sparking a great deal of panic among residents.
South Darfur State and its capital Nyala, the largest town in the region, have been witnessing a state of security breakdown in recent weeks. Incidents of armed robbery have increased and a protest over price rises last month saw the authorities killing 13 people most of them are teenagers.
According to the chief of police in South Darfur State, Taha Galal Al-Din, Tuesday’s clashes occurred with an “armed group of four bandits who specialize in stealing mobile phones and terrorizing citizens”.
Taha Jala Al-Din said that the clashes started when the armed group opened fire on a security patrol and another police patrol which led to the injury of two members of the security forces. He added that one of the perpetrators was arrested while the other three managed to escape.
The police official described the incident as unprecedented and never before seen in the area.
South Darfur authorities often accuse armed bandits and the region’s rebel groups of being behind incidents of insecurity in the state.
Insecurity has also been rife in other parts of Darfur, particularly in North Darfur State, which witnessed several attacks on an IDP camp in Kutum by tribal militiamen seeking to avenge the assassination last month of a local official belonging to one of the Arab ethnic groups.
Also in the state capital, El Fasher, an unknown group attacked on Monday the premises of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) and seized four vehicles. This followed announcements by the DRA that it was taking additional measures to beef up security in the region.
The upsurge of violence in Darfur brings the region back to the fore after its conflict was overshadowed by more recent wars in Sudan’s southern regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
The Doha Peace Document for Darfur (DPPD) which the government signed in mid-July last year with the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) is facing difficulties on multiple fronts of its implementation, mainly regarding allocation of financial resources and integration of former rebel fighters into the army.
The DRA was created as part of the DPPD, with the LJM’s leader Tijani al-Sissi its chairman.
Most of Darfur’s rebel groups still continue to oppose the DPPD, namely the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM).