At least 150 people have been killed in two days of fighting in the latest ethnic clashes triggered by land disputes in Sudan’s southern Blue Nile state, a medic said Thursday.
The fighting is some of the worst in recent months, and crowds took to the streets of the Blue Nile state capital Damazin in protest, chanting slogans condemning a conflict that has left hundreds dead this year.
Clashes in Sudan’s troubled Blue Nile broke out last week after reported arguments over land between members of the Hausa people and rival groups.
The fighting has centred around the Wad al-Mahi area near Roseires, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of the capital Khartoum. Residents on Wednesday reported intense gunfire and houses set on fire.
“A total 150 people including women, children, and elderly were killed between Wednesday and Thursday,” said Abbas Moussa, head of Wad al-Mahi hospital. “Around 86 people were also wounded in the violence.”
On Thursday, hundreds marched through Damazin, some calling for the state governor to be sacked, witnesses said.
“No, no to violence,” the demonstrators chanted.
The UN mission in Sudan said it was “alarmed” by the “resurgence of conflict” in Blue Nile, a region awash with guns bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia, that is still struggling to rebuild after decades of civil war.
Sudan is grappling with deepening political unrest and a spiralling economic crisis since last year’s military coup, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The military power grab upended a transition to civilian rule launched after the 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for three decades.
“Sustainable peace won’t be possible without a fully functional credible government that prioritises local communities’ needs including security, and addresses the root causes of conflict”, the UN added.
A surge in ethnic violence in recent months has highlighted the security breakdown in Sudan since the coup.
Over 546 people have been killed and more than 211,000 forced to flee their homes in inter-communal conflicts across the country from January to September, according to the UN.
Last week, clashes in the same area of Blue Nile sparked by “a dispute over land issues” left at least 13 people dead and 24 injured, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Authorities imposed an overnight curfew in a bid to contain the violence.
The government’s Humanitarian Aid Commission reported 19 dead and 34 injured in that conflict, according to the UN, with 36,500 people fleeing the violence.
The army accused a holdout rebel group of shelling Lagawa on Tuesday, wounding two members of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.