70+ dead or injured in bloody West Darfur tribal violence
The outcome of bloody clashes between Mahameed herders and Masalit tribesmen in El Geneina, West Darfur, has reportedly risen to more than 70 dead and wounded, while markets, schools, and government institutions remain closed. The violence has already caused the Juba peace talks of the Darfur track to be suspended.
The Dar Masalit Sultanate reported that the initial toll of the victims of Kerending camp for the displaced and neighbouring villages amounts to 50 dead, and dozens of wounded.
The Emir of the Mahameed, Massar Abdelrahman, announced the death of 11 tribesmen. 15 others were wounded.
The Masalit Sultanate said in a statement on Tuesday, that “a large number of janjaweed militiamen carrying firearms attacked Kerending camp on Monday. They are guilty of killing, burning, looting, and intimidation.”
Rapid Support Forces
The attackers were riding in vehicles belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, and some private vehicles, others on horses, camels, and motorcycles.
The Masalit leaders further reported that a number of districts of El Geneina, the villages of Delmengi and Majmari, a number of voluntary return villages, and the western part of Mornei camp were attacked as well.
The militiamen fired indiscriminately at the people, killing student Yousef Haroun and wounding others in various neighbourhoods of the city despite the presence of the army and the police.
The Sultanate of Dar Masalit demanded the dismissal of the West Darfur governor and security committee, the immediate expulsion of the RSF militia from the state, disarmament of what they described as janjaweed militiamen, and criminalisation of carrying weapons by non-regular forces.
The Masalit hold the West Darfur security committee responsible for the spread of the violence, accusing its members of “conspiring with the aggressors” and “invisible hands of being involved in planning the events”.
They accused Mousa Ambelo, the deputy commander of the RSF militia in West Darfur, of killing displaced in the Kerending camp and supervising the plundering and burning. “Sunday’s events brought to mind the acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing,” the statement read. The Sultanate hinted that they would demand self-determination “if the need arises”.
The Sultanate of Dar Masalit further explained in its statement that the clashes broke out on Sunday because of a fight between a young Masalit tribesman and an Mahameed herder in El Bursa Market that resulted in the death of the latter.
In response the relatives of the victim attacked the families of the perpetrator and killed two of them, wounded others and torched the market.
The “janjaweed” attacked wounded people at El Geneina Teaching Hospital on Sunday evening. They killed one person, wounded a child, and assaulted medical personnel, which led to the closure of the hospital until Tuesday.
Today, militant herders attacked the headquarters of the West Darfur police, which is located a few metres away from the governor’s house, where high-level security delegation was staying. He arrived, with a government delegation, to El Geneina today at 8 am.
The attackers killed two policemen and wounded another. They stole their weapons and a police vehicle.
Another group of gunmen attacked the West Darfur Legislative Council building in the El Jebel district in the southern part of the city. They killed two police guards and plundered the building.
Mahameed gunmen also attacked the Atia district in south El Geneina, where they killed two policemen. They seized their weapons and plundered the neighbourhood.
Witnesses reported the presence of 55 wounded in the Military Hospital in El Geneina’s Ardemata, and 27 bodies in the hospital’s mortuary. They said a number of wounded were transferred by a military helicopter to Khartoum yesterday.
Among the dead are Bashir Adam, Sheikh of Kerending camp, El Haj Juma, Imam of the camp’s mosque, and a number of students.
The witnesses further said that thousands of displaced people fled the camp to neighbouring El Geneina, hundreds fled to Chad.
A security official confirmed to Radio Dabanga the arrest of Ambelo, the deputy commander of the RSF in West Darfur.
In Khartoum, hundreds of displaced from West Darfur organised a protest march to the Council of Ministers today denouncing the violence, which they described as genocide and ethnic cleansing.
They delivered a memorandum to Omar Manis, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, in which they condemned the deterioration of the security situation in West Darfur, accused the state government of supporting what it described as aggressors, and accused the RSF of being involved in the events. They demanded the dismissal of the governor and the members of the West Darfur security committee.
The displaced West Darfuris further demanded an independent investigation into the violent events, the replacement of the RSF militia in the state by the army, and bringing RSF commander Mousa Ambelo to trial.
They also requested urgent support to the affected people, the return of aid organisations and the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) to return to the West Darfur, and investigate the events.
Manis referred to the visit of a high-level delegation to El Geneina. A number of regular forces have been sent to the West Darfur capital, he added.
The government has taken more actions to impose the Rule of Law. A national commission of inquiry headed by the Public Prosecution was formed today to investigate the events and hold the perpetrators accountable.
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