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Tribal tensions escalate in North Darfur state

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March 20, 2015 (MELLIT) – Some 30 people were killed and injured in clashes between Berti and Al-Zayadia tribes on Friday in North Darfur state .

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Sudanese tribal leaders attend the Darfur talks at the venue of the Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria on 2 May 2006 (AP)

According to Sudan Tribune correspondent, 5 people were killed and a similar number wounded in clashes between Zayadia armed men and unknown militias near Mellit on Friday afternoon.

The wounded were transferred to the military hospital in North Darfur state capital, El-Fashir.

A Sudan Tribune correspondent quoted eyewitnesses as saying that several Zayadiya people left Mellit on Friday to evacuate some wounded fellow tribesmen on the road linking between El-Fashir and Mellit before they clashed with those armed militia.

Further, six people from Arab Zayadia tribe were killed and 4 others injured on Thursday in an ambush by an armed militia on the same road.

The Zayadia tribe Shura [consultative] Council rapporteur, Yahia Midaisis, said in press statements on Friday that an armed militia opened fire on a car carrying a family, 5km from Mellit, killing 6 people including a nursing woman and her son and injuring 4 others.

He added the incident was the third of its kind within less than a month, accusing “a well known militia of seeking to spark a civil war between the neighbouring Zayadia and Berti tribes.”

Midaisis expressed regret that the governor of North Darfur state, Osman Kibir, who is a Berti, turned a blind eye on the repeated banditry incidents in the area without taking any measures to prevent security breakdown in the state.

Local authorities told Sudan Tribune that large military reinforcements have arrived in the locality of Mellit, 50 km north west of El-Fashir, to protect the students sitting for Sudan’s high school exams against any potential fighting between Zayadia and Berti following the recent killing incidents.

Several traditional administration leaders in the state have warned against eruption of tribal fighting between Zayadia and Berti particularly after the armed mobilisation which could lead to a wide state of lawlessness.

The Gathering of the Sons of Zayadia, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, held Kibir responsible for the lawlessness in the state, demanding the federal government to sack him and appoint another person who could govern the state with “ honesty and integrity”.

The statement also called for the formation of a federal fact-finding committee to investigate the abuses which lead to tearing up the social fabric.
It pointed to armed militia camping in Abu Minaikher area, north of Mellit, saying it attacks innocent civilians.

“Those militia are well known to the government of North Darfur but it turns blind eye on them”, the statement read.

The area had seen three incidents which led to the killing of 18 people including nine people from one family who were killed while defending themselves against intruders in their farms and 6 others attacked by armed men in Sari area while they were sleeping.

HILAL ACCUSED

On the other hand, youths and students of Berti tribe accused in a statement on Friday Zayadia groups residing within their areas of repeatedly attacking their tribe with the support of the leader of the Arab Mahameed clan, Musa Hilal.

Hilal for long time criticised the central government’s support for Kibir. He demands since 2013 the removal of the governor and accuses him of instigating conflicts between his clan and several African ethic groups in the state.

It stressed that Zayadia armed men attacked Maxi area which belongs to Al-Sayah administrative unit in the locality of Mellit on Tuesday, saying the attackers, on 24 four-wheel drive armed vehicles, killed 9 people and injured several others besides torching dozens of homes.

The statement which was also extended to Sudan Tribune pointed that the same area which is located 87 km east of Mellit and 146 km north east of El-Fashir had seen similar attack on 27 February from the same militia, saying that four people were killed, four others wounded and 11 kidnapped in the attack.

The students dismissed allegations that Berti tribe has an army led by Kibir or it is allied with the Darfur rebel groups.

The Zayadia have repeatedly accused Kibir of heavily arming the Berti people after recruiting them to form a militia force under his command.

Tribal fighting has intensified during the last two years in Darfur and Kordofan regions in western Sudan leading to thousands of deaths and injuries and forcing over 300,000 people to flee their homes.

(ST)

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The Sudan Tribune editorial team.

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