Four Hurt as Protesters, Army Clash in Darfur

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2019-05-04

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KHARTOUM, SUDAN —Violence erupted Saturday when crowds of protesters from a camp for displaced people in Darfur clashed with soldiers and paramilitary forces, wounding four security personnel, state media reported.

The incident occurred in Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur state, the official SUNA news agency said, quoting the state's governor, Hashim Khalid.

About 5,000 people staged a peaceful march from Attash camp, but they soon unleashed "violence on a unit of armed forces" in Nyala, Khalid said.

Four members from the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force were left "critically wounded," he said, adding that there were no casualties among the protesters.

After attacking the armed forces, protesters tried to seize vehicles belonging to the armed forces, Khalid said.

He said the protesters had come out to join an ongoing sit-in held outside the region's military headquarters and organized by the group spearheading the nationwide protest movement that has rocked Sudan for months.

The umbrella group leading the protests, the Alliance for Freedom and Change, gave a different version of events and called for nationwide protests and marches to condemn what it said was an attack by the army on protesters.

It called on supporters to "reject the acts of the regime in its new version, its security apparatus and its militia, and condemn the attack on peaceful protesters in Nyala."

Protest leaders have regularly called for sit-ins outside regional military headquarters, similar to the one held at the main army headquarters in central Khartoum for weeks.

Thousands remain camped outside the Khartoum army complex, demanding that the country's army rulers hand over power to civilians.

A 10-member military council took power after the army toppled longtime leader Omar al-Bashir on April 11 after months of protests.

Sudan's western region of Darfur was torn by years of conflict that erupted in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum's Arab-dominated government, accusing it of economic and political marginalization.

The United Nations says about 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003 and another 2.5 million people displaced.

Bashir is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes and genocide charges in Darfur. He denies the charges.

In recent years violence has dropped in Darfur, but on April 13 there were clashes reported in Camp Kalma that left 14 people dead, according to state media.