February 24, 2013 / 9:00 PM / 6 years ago

Fighting in Sudan's Darfur region kills 51: government

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Recent fighting between Arab tribes in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur has killed 51 people and wounded 62, state news agency SUNA said on Sunday, in the first official comment on fresh violence in the western region.

Conflict has raged in the vast arid region since mainly non-Arab tribes revolted against the Arab government in Khartoum in 2003, accusing it of political and economic neglect.

Violence ebbed from 2004 but has picked up again in recent months. Arab tribes, armed by the government to help quell the Darfur insurgency, have turned their guns on each other in battles for control of a gold mine and other resources.

Fighting broke out in January between the Bani Hussein and Rizeigat tribes over the mine in Jebel Amer in North Darfur, displacing 100,000 people, according to the United Nations.

A total of 51 people were killed during new fighting in the area of El Sireaf between the two tribes on Thursday and Saturday, North Darfur governor Osman Mohammed Kibir told SUNA.

He said the army had now restored order, adding that “criminals” on both sides were to blame for the new violence which tribesmen reported first this weekend.

In January, separate clashes between the army and a rebel group in central Darfur forced 30,000 to flee.

In 2003, Khartoum armed and unleashed Arab tribes to help put down the insurgency of African tribes. Human rights groups and the United Nations estimate hundreds of thousands of people died in the Darfur conflict. The government says around 10,000 people were killed.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and some aides to face charges of masterminding war crimes in Darfur. They deny the charges and refuse to recognize the court.

Events in Darfur are hard to verify as Sudan restricts travel by journalists, aid workers and diplomats. In January, authorities denied Reuters a travel permit to attend a government-sponsored disarmament conference in West Darfur.

Reporting by Khalid Abdelazi and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Jason Webb

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