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Heavy fighting in Sudan's Darfur, tribes say

11 November 2013, 11:31

Khartoum - Arab tribal militias fired rockets, artillery and heavy machine guns during battle across a wide swath of Sudan's South Darfur on Sunday, sources on both sides said.

They said they could not yet give a casualty count, but tribal unrest which worsened this year in Darfur has already killed hundreds.

"The fighting spread over a wide area and both sides are using heavy, heavy weapons," said a source from the Taisha tribe.

The rival Salamat tribe said fighting continued into Sunday night.

"It spread from around Rahad el Berdi up to near Nyala," said a Salamat source, who like his Taisha counterpart asked not to be named.

Both sides said a land dispute sparked the battle.

Rahad el Berdi is more than 100km southwest of Sudan's second-largest city Nyala.

"During the fighting there were some groups, not part of the battle, that were looting villages. I saw it myself," said the Taisha source.

The Salamat source confirmed the looting, saying it had "never happened before".

The Salamat have been fighting off-and-on with the Misseriya tribe, a Taisha ally, in southwest Darfur since April.

More than 20 people died on 27 October when the Misseriya and Salamat clashed near Mukjar town, northwest of Rahad el Berdi, the United Nations said.

Inter-ethnic fighting involving Arab groups has been the main cause of violence in Sudan's far-west Darfur region this year.

Cash-starved Khartoum can no longer control its former Arab tribal allies, whom it had earlier armed against a rebellion in the region, analysts say, and competition for resources has intensified.



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