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West Darfur residents flee as herders threaten to attack

December 5 - 2014 KEREINIK

Militant herders have threatened the farmers of villages in Kereinik locality, West Darfur, to burn their houses and killing villagers to avenge the deaths of two of their companions during a clash on Wednesday. They attacked several villages during the past three days, causing the residents flee their homes.

The herders had given the residents of the villages until this evening (Friday) to pay SDG 80,000 ($13,940) as a compensation for the deaths of two herders during a clash with farmers on Wednesday, and are now making threats if the villagers do not pay the money. Local authorities had decided that the villagers have to pay the amount.

Omda Ishag Abdelbanat told Radio Dabanga that a meeting between the military commander of the Azerni garrison, the security committee of Kereinik village, and tribal leaders took place at the garrison on Thursday. “They agreed that the people of Azerni have to pay the amount of SDG 800,000 to the herders as diyah for the killing of the two herders, within 24 hours.” The deadline for the payment was at 6 pm on Friday.

According to Abdelbanat, the meeting also agreed that the villagers have to pay “all costs and losses for one wounded man, and in the case that he succumbs to his wounds, they have to pay an additional SDG 400,000 ($6,970) as diyah”. The herders have refused to receive a cheque.

'Hundreds flee villages'

Many residents have left the area, the omda claimed, “as a result of the herders' threat to carry out attacks against the villages if they do not receive the money”. He reported that hundreds of people in N'tit, Ahjalij, Um Drisei, and Bronga are displaced, in addition to people fleeing from Hillet Goz, Iowi, Riheid Meiram, and Kangouk. They have left to Azerni and Kilekile.

Abdelbanat reported the account of the material losses as a result of the militant herders' pillaging and burning of houses on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. “40 out of the 65 damaged houses were burned to the ground,” he said. In addition, “2,500 sheep, 1,000 cows, 750 goats, 70 horses, and all the donkeys” in the area of Azerni are stolen.

The atmosphere in the area is filled with tension, fear, and panic amongst the civilians,” Abdelbanat concluded. The problems started on Wednesday morning, when herders released their livestock by force of arms at the farmlands east of Azerni. During the ensuing clash with the farmers, two herdsmen died, and another was injured. The herders responded by attacking a number of villages in the area, and reportedly killed three villagers, and wounded five others.

File photo: Cattle herder in Kosti, June 2007 (UNEP)

Related: Herders' attacks on West Darfur villages continue (4 December 2014)

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