August 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Bloody battles between the Rizeigat and Maalia tribes broke out in East Darfur on Wednesday leaving 137 people either dead or wounded from both sides in what was described as the worst violence since the fighting started last week.
- Maalia and Rezeigat delegations arrive at Al-Tawisha in North Darfur before the signing of a cessation of hostilities deal on 22 August 2013 (Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam/UNAMID)
This development followed unsuccessful attempts by the local government to take control of the situation by deploying military units to separate the two tribes.
There were even clashes between government troops and Maalia on Monday after the latter accused these units of belonging to the Rizeigat which led to the death of four soldiers and five Maalia tribesmen prompting government forces to withdraw.
The Rizeigat attacked the area of Um-Rakoba inhabited by Maalia for the second time, after a raid a few days ago that left 113 people dead or injured from both sides.
Eyewitnesses at Adeela locality that is considered pro-Maalia told Sudan Tribune that the hospital received more than 27 dead and 26 wounded from Maalia, while other eyewitnesses reported from Abu-Gabra locality that is inhabited mainly by Rizeigat that the hospital received 36 deaths and at least 48 wounded.
Multiple other sources asserted that casualties will likely rise significantly.
The genesis of the conflict between the two tribes from last week was a dispute over ownership of a land. It is worth noting that the battles intensified in recent years after petroleum discovery in Maalia areas.
The Maalia accused Rizeigat of using government military vehicles in the fighting, and an eyewitness told Sudan Tribune that three four-wheel drive vehicles carrying military licence plates were destroyed.
It was not possible to obtain a comment from any state official.
Last Sunday, mainly Maalia students demonstrated in Khartoum in front of the parliament to protest what they called repeated Rezeigat attacks.
The protesters waved banners calling on the government to withdraw arms and heavy equipments from the Rizeigat.
MP Hadi Mohammed Ali, chairman of the parliamentary work committee promised to summon the interior minister to probe on the events.
One of the protesters warned of the consequences of having the Rizeigat use their sons working in the security services and police in the fight against Maalia because they could reciprocate.
The reconciliation conference, which was held between the two tribes in the capital of the West Kordofan state last month has failed prompting the presidency to summon East Darfur governor and deputy tribal chiefs to seek a truce.
The state is witnessing a constitutional vacuum for more than a year after the failure of the governor to form his government because of tribal conflicts.