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Tension in Kutum, North Darfur, as clash kills four

June 7 - 2016 KUTUM
Kutum, northwest of El Fasher.
Kutum, northwest of El Fasher.

Three military staff died in an attack by militiamen on Sunday, while tension remains between soldiers and the attackers in Kutum in North Darfur.

A witness told Radio Dabanga that militiamen opened fire on a water tanker from their moving vehicle. The tanker belonged to the army and was on its way to a military centre at Shagel Nakhara. Three staff in the tanker were killed outright, while three others sustained serious injuries. One militiaman succumbed to gunshot wounds.

A military force then pursued the gunmen until Damrat Dawa, south of Kutum, and returned without being able to arrest the culprits.

The next morning, militiamen gathered north and west of Kutum and threatened to attack the town market. The Sudanese army issued orders to shop owners not to open their stores.

The witness said that the militiamen exchanged fire with soldiers, causing people in the market to flee back to their homes. The clashes have continued until Monday evening, listeners reported.

The Commissioner of Kutum, Adam Abdelkarim Teirab, told Radio Dabanga that for a week there have been tensions between a paramilitary group and the Sudanese army, resulting in the attack on the military convoy on Sunday.

“Some of the attackers came early Monday morning to the market where the authorities attempted to arrest them. Although the attackers confronted the armed forces, they were eventually arrested, according to Teirab.

'Friendly fire'

He described what has happened to the government forces as “friendly fire”, stressing that the situation in Kutum is now under control. He added that soldiers are distributed at the gates.

Sunday and Monday witnessed conflicting accounts about the causes of the incidents. A witness said that militiamen had threatened to storm and plunder the market because of the non-payment of their wages by the authorities.

Others claimed that the attack was aimed to release one of their arrested comrades, who has been imprisoned a few days ago because he robbed people at the market.

Another listener told this station that the militiamen have rejected a recent decision by the authorities that will prohibit the wearing of a kadamool, weapons, and the use of motorcycles.

Panic reigns in Kutum, the listener said, as residents stay home and the streets have become nearly empty.

A number of people fled to nearby villages, several sources reported.

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