KHARTOUM, Sudan – Clashes between two Arab tribes in Sudan’s conflict-hit East Darfur state killed at least nine people on Saturday, tribal leaders told AFP.
A tribal leader said the fighting between the Arab Maaliya and Rizeigat tribes was sparked by a livestock theft, nearly a year after similar clashes between the two groups left up to 20 dead.
“When the owner whose livestock were stolen chased the thieves to a Rizeigat village there were clashes between his Maaliya men and the Rizeigat tribesmen,” said Sheikh Murdas Jumaa, head of the Maaliya Shura council.
“Two men who were with the livestock owner and eight from the Rizeigat village were killed in clashes.”
A leader from the Rizeigat tribe, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the fighting but said seven from his tribe had been killed.
“A group of Maaliya tribesmen attacked Rizeigat village today and started shooting,” he said.
“Seven from Rizeigat tribe were killed in the fighting.”
Khartoum limits international media access to Darfur so it was not possible to independently verify the toll and Sudanese authorities could not be reached for comment.
The two tribes have a history of deadly fighting over land ownership rights and allegations of cattle theft.
In April 2016, the two tribes had clashed over a similar livestock theft in which up to 20 people were killed.
In May 2015, dozens were killed when the two tribes fought pitched battles.
Although Khartoum insists that the conflict in Darfur — a region of the size of France — has ended, parts of the region have been destabilised by deadly fighting between myriad ethnic and tribal groups.
Darfur has been engulfed in conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority insurgents mounted a rebellion against President Omar al-Bashir, complaining that his Arab-dominated government was marginalising the region.
Bashir launched a brutal counter-insurgency, and the United Nations says that at least 300,000 people have been killed in the conflict and another 2.5 million have been forced to flee their homes.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes and genocide charges related to Darfur, which he denies.