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100+ killed in Darfur gold mine battles

17 January 2013, 13:55

New York - More than 100 people have died in battles for control of gold mines in Sudan's conflict-ravaged Darfur region, the UN said on Wednesday.

Several North Darfur villages have been torched in the battles between rival tribes this month, and gunmen have blocked roads to prevent the UN observers from getting to the region, the UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky told reporters.

Battles between tribes have added to resurgence in violence in Darfur, where the Khartoum government has been battling an uprising for the past decade. The UN says more than 300 000 people have died since 2003.

"More than 100 people have been killed and some 70 000 have fled their homes in the Jebel Amir gold mining areas of North Darfur" in the new battles, Nesirky told a briefing.

He added that clashes had eased in recent days and the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (Unamid) was sending 75 tons of relief items and providing security for World Food Programme trucks to get to the region.

The fighting peaked between 5 January and 9 January, the spokesperson said.

"Unamid says that clashes between the Beni Hussein and Aballa tribes over the control of gold mines have subsided, but security in the area remains tense and volatile," he added.

"Clashes between the two communities spilled over into surrounding areas, resulting in the burning and looting of a number of villages and the displacement of thousands of civilians, many of whom were in Jebel Amer to work in the gold mines," the spokesman said.

The UN had tried to send a patrol to the conflict zone but it was "obstructed by armed groups blocking access roads".

The UN and Sudanese authorities have organised a "reconciliation conference" which should take place on Thursday, Nesirky said.



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