At least 40 people have been killed in Sudan’s West Darfur region after three days of ethnic clashes that have prompted the government to declare a state of emergency, the United Nations announced Monday.
The clashes in El Geneina, which is close to the border with Chad, also left at least 58 people wounded.
Fighting among members of the Arabi Rizeigat and Masalit tribes in El Geneina began after armed men shot two people and wounded two others in the Masalit tribe, according to the U.N.
While authorities have yet to determine the cause of the shootings, gunfire exchanges between the two tribes continued into Monday, claiming at least 40 residents.
Residents told Agence France-Presse they heard fresh gunfire accompanied by loud explosions at dawn Monday as the violence spread to the suburbs.
The witnesses who described thick smoke hovering over the city also said women and children are among those fleeing.
Sudan’s security council, which declared a state of emergency, said it had deployed troops to the area to restore peace.
Conflicts erupted into war in 2003 in the Darfur region, claiming at least 300,000 lives and displacing about 2.5 million people, according to the U.N
Several peace accords have been signed since, but the area remained under the shadow of the war.
Easy access to weapons, coupled with ethnic differences and confusion about land or water ownership, has resulted in a string of killings.
In January, two weeks after the United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission ended its 13-year occupation of the area following the October peace deal, about 200 people died in ethnic clashes.
Like now, this conflict also stemmed from disagreements between Arab herdsmen and non-Arab farmers in South Darfur.