Rizeigat, Habaniya clashes in South Darfur leave more than 170 dead

At least 176 people were killed and dozens wounded in clashes that broke out between Rizeigat and Habaniya tribesmen in Sunta locality, South Darfur, on Tuesday.

At least 176 people were killed and dozens wounded in clashes that broke out between Rizeigat and Habaniya tribesmen in Sunta locality, South Darfur, on Tuesday.

Multiple witnesses reported to Radio Dabanga that the fighting erupted after a gunfight between cattle rustlers and a “rescue team” earlier that day. A group of Rizeigat had stolen 39 head of cattle from the Habaniya village of Abyad Tabaldiya, whereupon the rescue team set up an ambush to retrieve their cattle.

In the ensuing fire fight, five Rizeigat and one Habaniya tribesman were shot dead. The rest of the rescue team then took the stolen cows, as well as a number of sheep and goats belonging to the Rizeigat, and returned to their village.

In response, a large group of angry Rizeigat riding in Land Cruisers and others on horses attacked the Habaniya, and shelled Abyad Tabaldiya with RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades) and other missiles. 

More than 130 Rizeigat and 40 Habaniya were killed, the sources reported. The village entirely burned to the ground. The wounded were transferred to the hospital of Buram.

No intervention

The situation has become very tense, as both parties mobilised their fighters, gathering in large numbers in the area. “The situation can explode again any moment,” one of the witnesses said.

The sources further told Radio Dabanga on Wednesday that government forces were nowhere to be seen, “just as the local authorities and representatives of the native administration were absent”.

They called on the warring parties to “listen to the voice of reason, resolve the crowds of fighters from both sides, and commit themselves to peace and reconciliation”.

Earlier this month, on 4 July, at least six people were killed and nine others injured in Sunta locality, when Rizeigat and Habaniya tribesmen clashed over another cattle theft in Sundat, bordering East Darfur.

The deputy-governor of East Darfur at the time said that he mobilised native administration leaders of both tribes, to contain the situation, and prevent it from developing into a full-fledged tribal war.