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Sudanese armed forces use tear gas during protests as the death toll from tribal clashes soars

#Sudanese #armed #forces #tear #gas #protests #death #toll #tribal #clashes #soars

Police fired tear gas at hundreds of anti-coup protesters in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday, who also drew attention to increasingly deadly clashes between tribes in the south of the country.

The capital has been the scene of almost weekly protests since army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched a power grab last October that thwarted a transition to civilian rule.

The coup caused major donors to pull the plug on funding, deepening a long-running economic crisis and sparking intercommunal unrest in remote parts of the country.

Blue Nile state, which borders Ethiopia, is the latest melting pot of tribal strife – and on Sunday authorities there increased the death toll to 60 from 33 the previous day in fighting that began almost a week ago.

“Al-Damazin is bleeding,” read a poster posted by a demonstrator in Khartoum on Sunday, referring to the provincial capital, Blue Nile.

In the town of Wad Madani, some 200 kilometers south of Khartoum, protesters diverted their demonstration to the local hospital to “donate blood to our brothers who were wounded in tribal fighting in the Blue Nile,” protest organizer Ammar Mohamed told AFP.

Clashes in Blue Nile state between the Berti and Hawsa tribes first broke out last Monday.

The violence came after the Berti tribe rejected a Hawsa request to create a “civilian agency to monitor access to land,” a prominent Hawsa member told AFP on condition of anonymity.

But a senior Bertis member had said the tribe was responding to a “violation” of his country by the Hawsas.

The revised death toll of 60 was given by Blue Nile Health Minister Jamal Nasser, who also told AFP that 163 people were injured.

“Violence is never a solution,” UNICEF tweeted Sunday in a country where the UN estimates half the population will have plunged into extreme hunger by September.

– Security vacuum after the coup –

Pro-democracy protesters are accusing the Sudanese military leadership and former rebel leaders, who signed a 2020 peace accord, of escalating ethnic tensions in Blue Nile for personal gain.

Security forces had set up roadblocks on bridges that cross the Nile and connect Khartoum with its suburbs, AFP reporters told AFP, to deter protesters who vowed to take to the streets in large numbers to protest Burhan.

The latest coup in Sudan has sparked regular protests and an ongoing security crackdown that has killed at least 114 people, according to pro-democracy medics.

Nine were killed on June 30, medics said, as tens of thousands rallied against the military.

Earlier this month, in a surprise move, Burhan vowed to make way for civilian rule.

But the country’s main civilian umbrella organization dismissed his move as a “ploy” and protesters continued to urge the army chief to resign.

Sunday’s rallies follow a period of relative calm in Khartoum in recent days.

Experts say last year’s coup created a security vacuum that has encouraged a resurgence in tribal violence in a country where deadly clashes regularly erupt over land, livestock, access to water and pasture.

Guerrillas in Blue Nile fought former powerful President Omar al-Bashir during Sudan’s civil war from 1983 to 2005 and took up arms again in 2011.

Triggered by massive protests against his rule, Bashir’s army overthrew him in 2019.

The following year, a civilian-military power-sharing government reached a peace deal with key rebel groups, including those in Blue Nile and the war-ravaged western Darfur region.

Both areas remain underdeveloped and awash with weapons, and violence in Darfur has also increased in recent months.

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