Armed groups attack protest camp in Darfur, kill 13

CAIRO (AP) – Sudanese armed groups on Monday attacked a protest camp in the war-scarred Darfur region, killing more than a dozen people, activists said, a day after security forces violently broke up another sit-in in the region.

Both protest camps in North Darfur province called for better security conditions and an end to attacks by government-sanctioned armed groups, according to a local organisation that helps run displacement camps in the Darfur region.

Sudan’s transitional government is struggling to end decades-long rebellions in different areas of the country, including Darfur, where most people live in displaced and refugee camps.

Longtime leader Omar al-Bashir, who was overthrown in a popular uprising in April 2019, faces international charges of genocide and crimes against humanity over a scorched-earth campaign against rebels in Darfur in the 2000s.

The protesters, mostly internally displaced people and refugees, began their camps about a week ago outside the government buildings in the nearby towns of Kutum and Fata Borno.

In Fata Borno, government-sanctioned armed groups attacked the protesters and broke up their sit-in, killing at least 13 protesters and wounding 11 others, said Amany Hasabu, an activist in the area.

The Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, condemned the attack. It said the attackers burned houses and a market, and looted livestock in the area.

The SPA urged the ruling sovereign council to “immediately interfere, stop the attacks and arrest all those who took part and ordered them”.

The provincial government in North Darfur declared a state of emergency across the province, starting on Monday until further notice. It said in a statement that more troops would be deployed to Fata Borno and nearby towns to restore securing and stability. The statement did not provide causalities toll for the violence.

Last Sunday, security forces dispersed the protest camp in Kutum, killing at least one protester and wounding a dozen others, including four children, said Coordinator of Displacement and Refugee camps in Darfur Yacoub Abdallah.