Abu Karinka in a state of chaos after tribal clashes, East Darfur

Witnesses from inside Abu Karinka, where the tribal fighting took place, report seeing many dead bodies being transferred to other areas, a lack of medical services, and that a number of children have gone missing. Political attempts to defuse the tension are ongoing.

The situation in Abu Karinka, where clashes took place between the Rizeigat and Ma'aliya tribes on Monday, is still tense. Witnesses from inside the East Darfur town reported seeing many dead bodies transferred to other areas, a lack of medical services, and that a number of children have gone missing.

A woman from Abu Karinka described the humanitarian and health situation there as critical. “There are no medicines. And many people are traumatised. Especially children. Many children and youth have gone missing since Monday.”

The battle between the warring Rizeigat and Ma'aliya that day resulted in -according to multiple sources of Radio Dabanga- at least one hundred deaths. The fighting started north of Abu Karinka and moved to the town's northern neighbourhoods. A witness said that Rizeigat fighters fired missiles onto houses.

The violence has caused a wave of displacement among residents, of which numbers are not yet known.

Government delegation arrives

A high-ranking government delegation led by the Minister of Interior, Ismat Abdelrahman, arrived on Thursday in East Darfur state – one day later than initially reported. After several meetings with all parties, they decided on a package of measures to stop the tribal clashes and defuse the tension.

Abdelrahman is joined by the state Ministers of Justice and of Social Affairs, the chief of military staff, commissioners of Abu Karinka and Adila in East Darfur, and finally the leaders of military and security forces. Mahdi Hamuda, the deputy commissioner of East Darfur's capital Ed Daein, told Radio Dabanga that the delegation first visited Ed Daein to meet with leaders of the Rizeigat tribe, followed by a meeting with Ma'aliya leaders in Abu Karinka, to which they flew by helicopter.

Hamuda did not reveal the whole package of measures, but explained that one of them is the formation of an investigation committee to probe the incidents. He added that the parties will be tough on those people, “criminals”, who are causing the conflict between the tribes to erupt.

“Corpses have not been transferred yet from the scene, although they were killed in the first collision on Monday, 3km north of Abu Karinka.”

Storing bodies

Bodies of the dead Rizeigat and Ma'aliya that were lying in the open in Abu Karinka locality were stored by a military force, led by the commander of the military garrison of Ed Daein, four days later.

An eyewitness reported that the soldiers transferred about 130 corpses of Rizeigat members toward El Jalabi. He added that a dozen of bodies are still lying un the open until now. “They have not been transferred yet from the scene, although they were killed in the first collision on Monday, 3km north of Abu Karinka.”

He appealed to all international and national organisations to quickly intervene in order to remove these bodies and clean the area, to avoid any contamination to the vicinity.

The Rizeigat tribe reported it has released Ma'aliya who were taken prisoners during the fighting, as a gesture of good will and in the hope that the Ma'aliya will do the same.

In a press statement on Wednesday, the Rizeigat Shura Council has welcomed any initiative to heal the rift with the Ma’aliya. The Secretary-General of the council, Mohamed Ibrahim Ezzat, said that the whole Shura arrived in Ed Daein to undertake efforts to calm the “frivolous and useless war”.

He revealed that he contacted a number of Ma’aliya notables and that he found a positive attitude from them, “that supports social peace and peaceful coexistence”.

Ezzat added that as a gesture of good will, his tribe has released the Ma'aliya prisoners taken during the fighting, and handed them over to the African Union-United Nations peacekeepers (Unamid) so as return them to their families. He expressed the hope that the Ma'aliya will do the same.

On the other hand, the head of the Ma'aliya Shura Council, Mardas Juma, has held high-ranking officials in the Sudanese government responsible for the battle in Abu Karinka. At a press conference in Khartoum, he demanded an investigation into these claims.

And the head of the Darfur Regional Authority (DRA), Dr. Tijani Sese, has called for the stripping of arms from civilians, which pose a threat to the security in Darfur. He also announced the formation of a committee to deal with the humanitarian situation in in Abu Karinka locality.

Murder attempt on Ma'aliya minister

In a related event, Ali El Sayed Osman Gasem, the state Minister of Social Affairs, survived an assassination attempt by one of his relatives on Thursday. The attack occurred right after the minister, a member of the Ma'aliya tribe, returned from a meeting held with the security committee about the tribal fighting. His relative tried to stab him with a knife, but Osman Gasem resisted the attack and sustained a light cut on his shoulder.

The murder attempt came against the backdrop of his participation in the delegation and the fact that he accepted the position as a minister in the new East Darfur government in December last year. The Ma'aliya leadership had decided to boycott the new government, and some ministers even resigned, in protest against repeated attacks by Rizeigat militants, without any intervention from the state’s and national government to stop the violence.

Two ministers and four commissioners of the Ma’aliya tribe, however, were sworn in on 16 December.