Southern Sudan army have attacked and killed 55 people in Darfur over cattle grazing land rights. The fighting between cattle men from Rezeigat tribe in Darfur and members of the South Sudan army occurred on Friday near the south Sudan border, reports have claimed.
A leader of the Darfur Rezeigat tribe of Arab nomads, Mohammed Issa Aliou told reporters that tribesmen had been seeking new grazing land near the border with Southern Sudan’s Western Bahr al-Ghazal province when they were attacked. Some 2,000 people were killed in similar clashes across the south in 2009.
“I can’t tell you who attacked who first but they clashed. About 85 tribesmen were wounded. The Rizeigat tribe sent reinforcements to the scene. There was movement from the Rizeigat and from the SPLA,” Mr. Aliou was quoted as saying.
However, South Sudan army insists that the northern government had attacked them first. Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman Malaak Ayuen said: “Late on Saturday a company of Southern soldiers (about 120 men) had come under attack from northern government (SAF) forces. The SAF was using four land cruisers with mounted machine guns.”
Another supporting account of the event claimed that the southern company had been attacked by armed men wearing uniforms of the northern army. Albeit, a northern armed forces spokesman told reporters his men had not been involved in any fighting.
“They reinforced themselves and launched another attack and occupied the place,” Mr. Ayuen added.
Analysts say that Friday’s clash is sure to raise tensions, especially in the sensitive border area between Darfur and south Sudan.
The clashes have been described as the worst violence reported since Sudan’s historic elections this month. Nonetheless, grazing rights and water points have been sources of violence in this region of Sudan.
However, Sudan’s national elections commission has said the delayed results of the presidential elections being held in both Sudan and Southern Sudan would be announced on Monday.
According to foreign observers, the first multi-party polls in 24 years – a key part of the peace process for the divided country – were flawed by rigging and alleged fraud.
Results, so far, announced from the north suggest President Omar al-Bashir’s party has a strong lead. Observers and locals expect him to be re-elected.
In southern Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are also expected to hold on to power.