At least 19 people have been killed in Sudan’s restive Darfur region, officials said Friday, in the latest violence between rival groups that has left dozens dead this week.
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Fresh clashes which broke out Thursday have seen armed groups battle in the rugged Jebel Moon mountains of West Darfur state, close to the border with Chad.
At least “19 people were killed and five wounded”, said Adam Regal, spokesman for the General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, an independent aid organisation.
He earlier reported “dozens of injured and missing” as well as “four villages completely burned”.
Regal accused Janjaweed militiamen — many of whom have joined the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, de facto deputy leader of Sudan — of taking part in this week’s fighting.
“Militias have been attacking the villages of Jebel Moon, setting fire to houses and using automatic rifle fire since Sunday,” a tribal leader told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“No government forces have arrived since the attacks on Thursday, and we are terrified of an attack at any time.”
Between last Saturday and Monday, clashes already left at least 16 dead in the same region, according to an independent union of medics.
Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of houses torched in several bouts of violence in Jebel Moon as well as elsewhere in Darfur in recent months, the United Nations and medics say.
Darfur was ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2003, pitting ethnic minority rebels who complained of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government of then-president Omar al-Bashir.
Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjaweed, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes, who were blamed for atrocities including murder, rape, looting and burning villages.
The scorched-earth campaign left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million, according to the UN.
The region remains awash with weapons and deadly clashes often erupt over access to pasture or water.
A peace deal was signed in 2020 but since a military coup in October, Darfur has seen violence spike, with hundreds killed in fighting between herders and farmers.
Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide in Darfur, was ousted in April 2019 and jailed after mass protests against his three-decade rule.
The latest clashes reflect a broader security breakdown in Darfur following last year’s military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan that derailed a transition to full civilian rule.
In Darfur, the upsurge in violence has also seen rapes, the burning of villages, as well as UN bases being looted.