Dozens killed in clashes in Sudan’s restive Darfur

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Officials say the dispute between Arab shepherds began with a ‘dispute over camel looting’.

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At least 35 people have been killed and more than a thousand homes set on fire during days of fighting between shepherds in Sudan’s western Darfur region, officials said.

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On Thursday, Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Omar Abdelkarim in West Darfur state said violence broke out on November 17 between armed Arab shepherds in the rugged Jebel Moon mountains near the border with Chad.

“More than 35 people from both sides died in the clashes,” he told AFP news agency. “Around 16 villages have completely burnt down.”

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West Darfur governor Khamis Abdullah said the violence was triggered by a “dispute over camel loot”, and that “military reinforcements have been sent to the area and the situation has stabilized”.

He said some people have fled west in search of security across the border to Chad.

Darfur was ravaged by civil war that broke out in 2003, with ethnic minority rebels complaining of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government of Omar al-Bashir.

According to the United Nations, more than 300,000 people died and 2.5 million were displaced.

Al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court to face genocide charges in Darfur, was deposed and jailed in April 2019 following mass protests against his 30-year rule.

While the main conflict in Darfur has subsided, with a peace deal reached last year with major rebel groups, the arid region is riddled with weapons and violence often over access to land, agriculture or water.

The UN peacekeeping mission ended last year in Darfur.

The latest conflicts come against a backdrop of political unrest, as Sudan has been on the reels since a military coup last month that drew widespread international condemnation and sparked mass protests.

On 25 October, top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan overthrew the country’s al-Bashir transitional government and detained the civilian leadership.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok was released and reinstated from effective house arrest after signing a deal with al-Burhan, which was seen by critics as “whitewashing” the coup.

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