Curfew in Sudan's troubled Darfur

2012-09-06 16:46

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Khartoum - Authorities in Sudan's troubled Darfur region have imposed a curfew and placed two districts under military rule after a month of unrest, official media said on Thursday.

The crackdown in the country's far west follows an attack on Tuesday against the top official of Kutum town, northwest of the North Darfur state capital El Fasher.

Osman Yousif Kibir, the state governor, assigned Brigadier Mohammed Kamal Nour "to assume executive and administrative supervision in Kutum and Al-Waha" districts, the state SUNA news agency reported.

Violence broke out in early August in Kutum when Abdelrahman Mohammed Eissa, the head of Al-Waha district, was shot dead during a carjacking attempt.

Members of Eissa's tribe retaliated with looting and attacks on a camp for people already displaced in the region's conflict, which dates back nearly a decade, according to Darfur's top official Eltigani Seisi.

He added that eight people, half of them security officers, were killed.

The entire population of the Kassab displaced persons camp – 25 000 people - fled because of the fighting, the UN said. By late August most had returned.

In the latest disturbance, the Kutum government head "was rescued from an attack" but others with him were killed and injured, the official Radio Omdurman reported on Wednesday without giving more detail.

In response, the governor declared emergency measures including the 18:00 to 07:00 curfew for Kutum and a state-wide ban on weapons, "except in conditions of necessity," SUNA reported.

Troops had been sent in to restore order in Kutum after Eissa's killing, part of an upsurge of violence in the state last month.

Peace agreement

Late last week, officials in Jordan said initial investigation showed that two peacekeepers from their country had been kidnapped from Kebkabiya town, North Darfur. The peacekeepers went missing on August 20.

In Mellit, north of El Fasher, official media said six people were killed in mid-August but security forces averted a tribal dispute.

At about the same time, armed men seized a hostage and fired shots at the El Fasher offices of the Darfur Regional Authority set up to implement a peace agreement in the region.

Key rebel groups refused to sign the deal reached last year between the Khartoum regime and an alliance of rebel splinter factions.

Rebels drawn from black African tribes rose against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government in 2003. In response, the government unleashed state-backed Janjaweed Arab militia in a conflict that shocked the world and led to allegations of genocide.

The UN estimates at least 300 000 people died but the government puts the toll at 10 000.

Clashes between rebels and government troops, banditry and inter-ethnic fighting continue in the region but violence is much less than at its peak in the early years of the conflict.

Humanitarian sources said much of the unrest in Darfur now is linked to pro-government Arab groups which fight among themselves as well as against the regime, because "they feel protected."

Pro-government militia also commit most of the rapes, shootings and other violence in the displaced camps, the sources allege.

At the same time, with a variety of armed agencies operating in Darfur's towns "it is not clear who is really responsible for security", one humanitarian source said, declining to be named.

Read more on:    sudan  |  east africa

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