At least 24 people were killed after a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) was attacked in Sudan’s West Darfur state, as top officials arrived to try to calm the violence.
Krinding Camp, east of the state capital el-Geneina, was raided over Sunday and Monday following a dispute between Arab and African ethnic groups, said Ashraf Eissa, a spokesman for the joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur, UNAMID.
“The Arab tribesmen came to the IDP camp and started shooting and killing and burning,” he told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
“Then relatives went to the hospital and threatened hospital staff at gunpoint and destroyed the blood bank … and when a government of Sudan policeman tried to intervene he was shot and killed.”
Brokering lasting peace in Darfur and other parts of Sudan is one of the main challenges facing military and civilian authorities sharing power following a popular uprising that led to the overthrow of longtime President Omar al-Bashir last April.
Rebel groups from Darfur have now suspended their peace talks with the government in response to the latest tribal clashes and called for an investigation.
On Wednesday, senior officials including sovereign council member General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok arrived in Geneina and were briefed on the security situation, the joint civilian-military ruling body said in a statement.
After the exchanges of fire across Geneina on Tuesday, UNAMID’s Eissa said the situation remained very tense in the region.
At least 17 people were wounded in the violence around Geneina, though casualty figures were initial estimates and could rise, Eissa said. Many people from the camp fled to Geneina or nearby mountains.
A senior health official and a spokesman for a local aid group said at least 36 people were killed, including women and children.
The health official told The Associated Press news agency that about 60 others were wounded, and that 49 of them were taken to the capital, Khartoum, for treatment.
A local journalist said the violence had spread to the surrounding area, at least 10 villages had been burned, and some people were trying to flee across the border into Chad.
Adam Regal, a spokesman for a local organisation that helps run IDP camps in the area, said looting and destruction of property by fighters took place in at least three camps in Geneina.
He shared footage showing burned properties to the ground, as well as graphic images of burned bodies and wounded people with blood-stained clothes.
His group put the toll at 41 dead and more than 100 wounded.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after the removal of al-Bashir in April that followed months of anti-government protests.
One of the key priorities of the transitional government is ending the rebellion in Sudan’s far-flung provinces in order to slash military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.