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Sudan: Dozens killed in tribal fighting in Darfur region

State media said peace restored on Monday following intercommunal clashes
The UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s Darfur region hands over its headquarters to the Sudanese government in Khor Abachi on 15 February 2021 (AFP)

Fighting in South Darfur has left at 36 people dead and dozens wounded, according to media and activists

Violence broke out on Saturday between the Arab al-Taisha and ethnic African Fallata tribes in the remote Um Dafuq area of South Darfur, witnesses said. 

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"Military forces were deployed to the areas of clashes to resolve the conflict between Fallata and Taisha tribes which left 36 killed and 32 wounded," Sudan's state news agency reported late on Sunday citing South Darfur officials. 

SUNA said calm had been restored by Monday, however.

It was not immediately clear what triggered the clashes but similar fighting often erupts in the Darfur region over land and access to water. 

"We heard the sound of heavy weapons throughout the fighting," which broke out on Saturday and continued on Sunday, Um Dafuq resident Eissa Omar told AFP by telephone.

A history of conflict

The vast Darfur region, located in western Sudan, has been the scene of similar bouts of violence in recent months. 

In April, at least 132 people were killed in fighting in West Darfur between members of the Massalit tribe and Arab communities, forcing authorities to impose a state of emergency.

In January, renewed clashes between Arab and non-Arab tribes in the West and South Darfur regions killed more than 250 people. 

The violence came as Sudan navigates a rocky transition following the toppling of long-time president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, following mass protests against his rule.

The transitional government installed after Bashir's toppling has been pushing to end long-running conflicts including in Darfur. 

It signed a landmark peace agreement with multiple key rebel groups in October, and it is currently in talks to forge peace with the remaining two holdout groups. 

The recent violence in Darfur appeared not to involve any signatories to the October peace deal.

On 31 December, a hybrid United Nations and African Union peacekeeping mission ended its operations in Darfur.  

The end of peacekeeping patrols sparked protests by fearful Darfuris in late December.

Darfur was the site of a bitter 2003 conflict pitting African ethnic minority rebels against Arab nomads backed by the Khartoum government under Bashir. 

The deadly conflict - which killed some 300,000 people and displaced 2.5 million - subsided over the years but inter-ethnic clashes still occasionally erupt.