Cairo ( Associated Press) – A top Sudanese general on Friday ordered the use of military force to quell tribal violence in south Darfur province, where at least 45 people have died in recent days.
The country’s second-in-command, General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, said local authorities should “attack with an iron fist” anyone who violates the law. In a statement carried by state media, he authorized the implementation of the emergency law and the dispersal of any tribal assembly in the disturbed area. However, their language gave rise to fears of further fighting.
Sudan’s Darfur region has seen deadly clashes between rival tribes in recent months as the country plunged into a wider crisis following last year’s coup, when top generals overthrew a civilian-led government.
The military takeover put forward plans for a democratic transition, resulting in almost daily street protests in many Sudanese cities and towns.
According to the Security Council of South Darfur, 30 of the 45 people killed in the past few days were civilians. A council statement published by local media said fighting began in the province’s Sarquila area last Saturday after an attack on the vehicle of an officer of the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary force run by Dagalo.
An officer of the Arab Rezagit tribe was killed, and a subsequent raid on the village of the suspected attackers, believed to be from the non-Arab Falata tribe, sparked a deadly fight.
Since the overthrow of long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir and his Islamic government in 2019, Sudan has faced several challenges – including deteriorating security in places like war-ravaged Darfur. In 2020, the United Nations closed its peacekeeping mission to Darfur, raising fears that without a strong state presence, violence would return.
The years-long Darfur conflict began when insurgents from the region’s ethnic Central and Sub-Saharan African community launched an insurgency in 2003 in the capital Khartoum, complaining of persecution by the Arab-dominated government.
Al-Bashir’s government responded with a campaign of aerial bombing and raids by Janjavid militias, who have been accused of mass murders and rape. Over the years, 300,000 people were killed in Darfur and 2.7 million were driven out of their homes.
Al-Bashir, who has been in prison in Khartoum since his expulsion, also faces international charges of crimes against humanity related to the genocide and the Darfur conflict.