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20 killed and many displaced after violence in West Darfur

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — At least 24 people were killed after an IDP camp in West Darfur, Sudan, was attacked, as senior officials arrived to try to calm the violence, an international peace official said on Wednesday.

Ashraf Issa, spokesman for the joint African Union-United Nations Peacekeeping Mission (UNAMID), said Crending Camp, east of El Geneina, the state capital, was attacked on December 29 and 30 after a conflict between Arab and African groups.

“Men from Arab tribes came to the camp of the displaced and started shooting, killing and burning,” he added.

“Then the relatives went to the hospital and threatened their workers with weapons and destroyed the blood bank … When a Sudanese policeman tried to intervene, he was shot and killed.”

One of the main challenges facing the military and civilian authorities sharing power after the overthrow of former President Omar al-Bashir last April is mediation for a lasting peace in Darfur and other parts of Sudan.

The conflict in Darfur erupted in 2003 after mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against Khartoum. According to United Nations estimates, up to 300,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others displaced, including more than 180,000 who have been displaced in West Darfur.

Essa said that West Darfur has been generally quiet since 2010, but tensions re-emerged between the Masalit and Arab tribes in 2017 in the form of skirmishes from time to time on a smaller scale.

In a statement, the Sovereign Council said that senior officials, including Council member Muhammad Hamdan Daglo and Prime Minister Abdullah Handuk, arrived in El Geneina today, Wednesday, and were briefed on the security situation.

Issa said that at least 17 people were injured in the violence in the vicinity of El Geneina, although the number of casualties is still preliminary estimates and can be increased. Many fled the camp to El Geneina or nearby mountains.

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