Violence and chaos in eastern Sudan’s Kassala
Yesterday, Kassala town and surroundings witnessed widespread violence. Protests against the new Kassala governor took place again in Kassala and Port Sudan. A ministerial delegation will visit the conflict-torn state soon.
Four people were killed in tribal clashes in Kassala on Thursday. Dozens of others were wounded, witnesses reported.
Hundreds of people armed with knives and sticks plundered the Kassala Grand Market and set fire to a large number of shops. Police and military forces initially withdrew from their position at the market. They returned later with reinforcements, and fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
People in other parts of the town barricaded the entrances to their neighbourhoods in an attempt to prevent further spread of the violence.
The fighting coincided with a march organised by opponents of the new governor. Thousands of Beja tribesmen, headed by Hadendawa Nazir Sayed Tirik, walked and vehicles drove in a long procession toward Freedom Square in the town, calling for replacement of Ammar.
Activists hold the Kassala security committee responsible for the violence, and have expressed their astonishment about allowing protest marches despite the curfew.
On Tuesday, tribal clashes between supporters and opponents of the new governor, Saleh Ammar, broke out after a group of members of the Hadendawa clan attacked Beni Amer tribesmen who marched through the town calling on Ammar to come to Kassala and assume his duties.
One person was killed and at least 18 others were injured. Police reinforcements were sent and a comprehensive curfew was imposed in the entire town.
The next day, thousands of Beni Amer people ignored the curfew and took to the streets, demanding the speedy arrival of Governor Saleh Ammar to the state. Clashes broke out again and another man was killed.
Ammar, who belongs to the Beni Amer and has a military background, was appointed by Khartoum in end July. He is still in the Sudanese capital. The Cabinet postponed his departure after fierce protests erupted against his appointment.
In Sinkat in Red Sea state, opponents of the new Kassala governor yesterday again blocked the Port Sudan-Khartoum highway. Behind burning tyres, they chanted slogans demanding the government in Khartoum to replace Ammar.
Following tribal fighting in Kassala’s El Sawagi neighbourhood on Wednesday evening, in which a man was killed, people set fire to three large agricultural projects in Galasa in bordering Reefi Kassala locality.
A listener reported to Radio Dabanga that gates, stores, garages, and crops were burned and a number of cows were killed on Thursday in retaliation for the violence in El Sawagi.
He added that the two persons who went missing during the fighting on Wednesday evening have not been found yet. Rumours say they were killed, and that their bodies were thrown in El Gash River.
After the receival of an elaborate report from the security committee of Kassala on Thursday, Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok instructed the formation of a ministerial delegation that will travel to Kassala to offer condolences to the victims of the recent violence and discuss the situation in the eastern Sudanese state.
The security committee urged Khartoum to send reinforcements as soon as possible, in particular because of “the growing chaos” in the town.
So far seven people have been arrested.
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