September 19, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - At least two people were killed and dozens others wounded when violent protests erupted in South Darfur state’s capital city of Nyala on Thursday prompting the governor to impose a curfew.
- Smoke rising from South Darfur state capital of Nyala September 19, 2013 (ST)
The governor of South Darfur state, Adam Mahmoud Jar Al-Nabi, accused the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement led by Abdel Wahid Al-Nur (SLM-AW) of seeking to seize the city in coordination with a fifth column inside the town.
Thousands of angry demonstrators clashed with police as they protested the killing of Ismail Wadi, a prominent businessman from the Zaghawa tribe, along with his son and a relative by allegedly Janjaweed militia a day earlier.
Police fired tear gas when protesters set fire in the government headquarters building, burning the governor’s car and seven other cars.
The demonstrators marched on the city centre, chanting, "The people want the downfall of the regime" and "Get out, get out."
Police was deployed to protect the government buildings, banks, and companies against possible looting. Police also fired live ammunition in the air to disperse the demonstrators who occupied the government headquarters for several hours.
The governor left the government headquarters on a military armored vehicle under tight security.
The police barriers prevented the angry demonstrators from burning the Popular Defense Forces (PDF) building.
Eyewitnesses said that police fired teargas inside the emergency room in Nyala hospital to disperse the protesters.
Jar Al-Nabi said in a press conference that the protests were peaceful and warned against violence and vandalism, accusing unnamed parties of wreaking havoc in order to serve hidden agenda.
He pointed that unnamed parties have coordinated with the leaders of the rebel groups to break into Nyala, saying that the Sudanese army is ready to deter the rebels.
The governor declared an indefinite emergency situation in South Darfur state including a curfew from 5 pm to 6 am in the capital Nyala.
He downplayed the murder of Wadi and said that the killing incident involves an old revenge and that the perpetrators were identified by the police, stressing that the government wouldn’t allow a small incident to turn into violent acts which claims innocents’ lives.
Jar Al-Nabi also accused unnamed persons of hurling school pupils into the protests, saying that the SLM-AW is seeking to exploit the events to serve its own agenda.
He denied that the police used live ammunition and said that it requires permission from the attorney general, accusing unidentified armed elements of killing and wounding the demonstrators.
South Darfur State and its capital Nyala, the largest town in the region, have been witnessing a state of security breakdown recently. Incidents of armed robbery have increased and a protest over price rises last July saw the authorities killing 13 people most of them are teenagers.
Last July, deadly clashes erupted between members of security apparatus and a tribal militia which led to the death of First Lieutenant Ammar Anwar al-Haj and police assistant Mohammed Abdullah Sharara who is nicknamed ‘Dekrom’ and also hails from the powerful Rezeigat tribe, amid reports that militiamen continue to hide in the town’s neighborhoods.
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).