Eighteen dead as violence escalates in Sudan’s West Darfur region | News from Sudan

Local medics say at least 54 people have been injured in tribal clashes in the Sudanese town of El Geneina, the latest violence since the signing of a peace deal late last year and the withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers.

At least 18 people have been killed and 54 injured in tribal clashes in the Sudanese town of El Geneina, medics said on Monday, in further bloodshed following a major outbreak of violence earlier this year.

The incident is the latest in the troubled region since the signing of a peace accord late last year and the withdrawal of UN peacekeepers.

“The committee has recorded 18 dead and 54 injured, who are receiving medical treatment at El Geneina University Hospital,” the West Darfur Medical Committee said in a statement, citing clashes on Saturday and Sunday.

The committee, which is part of a nationally independent body formed in 2016 and representing the medical community, said an ambulance carrying injured victims was attacked in close combat.

In January, at least 129 people were killed and military reinforcements were brought to El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state. However, local sources say they have largely withdrawn since.

The most recent clashes between the Arab Rizeigat tribe and the Masalit tribe followed the deaths of two people from Masalit, said Salah Saleh, a doctor and former medical director of the town’s main hospital.

The circumstances of their deaths were not immediately known, he said, adding that the violence then spread to other areas of the city.

Residents of the town and a UN internal security bulletin seen by the Reuters news agency report the use of heavy weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, with photos and videos of residents showing plumes of smoke rising from parts of the city.

“On Monday, we woke up to the sound of gunshots … the clashes are still ongoing and have spread to the western outskirts of the city,” a witness told AFP news agency Abdelrahman Ahmed.

The transitional government made no immediate comment on the violence.

In October, the government signed a peace accord with some of the rebel groups that had fought against former President Omar al-Bashir.

However, attacks by members of the Arab tribes that al-Bashir had armed to fight the rebels intensified and tribal clashes increased in the heavily armed region.

International peacekeepers began to withdraw at the start of the year, and the Sudanese government said a new joint peacekeeping force mandated under the agreement would be able to protect civilians. But many in Darfur say they feel less secure.

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