Clashes in Sudan’s Darfur region spread on Monday claiming four more lives, an aid group said, bringing the death toll since Friday to 180.
West Darfur has been gripped by days of deadly fighting between Arab and non-Arab groups, largely centered in the Kreinik area.
But on Monday it spread to West Darfur’s state capital Geneina, around 80 kilometers from Kreinik, said Adam Regal, spokesman for the General Coordination for Refugees and Displaced in Darfur, an independent aid group.
“Renewed clashes have so far killed four people and wounded nine others,” Regal said.
Geneina resident Adam Eissa said he was awoken by “heavy weapons fire” while another inhabitant, Fatma Hussein, said she “was unable to leave the house” because of the fighting.
The violence first broke out on Friday when armed tribesmen attacked villages of the non-Arab Massalit minority in retaliation for the killing of two tribesmen, the aid group said.
At least eight people were killed on Friday.
On Sunday 168 others were killed and 98 wounded in Kreinik, Regal said.
Darfur24 news website quoted Naser al-Zein, director of Kreinik municipality, as saying that the dead included at least 17 children and 27 women.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, or OCHA, said government buildings, a police station and Kreinik’s sole hospital were attacked and burned down in Sunday’s hours-long clashes.
The fighting forced the U.N. food agency to suspend food distributions planned this week, affecting at least 62,850 displaced people in the town and two nearby villages, OCHA said.
The Genena Teaching Hospital, where wounded people were being treated, was also attacked Sunday with shooting took place inside the facility including the emergency department, the Doctors Without Borders charity said.
One hospital worker was killed, and healthcare workers were evacuated, said the group which is known by its French acronym MSF.
Regal accused the Arab Janjaweed militia — which gained notoriety for its role in the repression of an ethnic minority rebellion in Darfur in the early 2000s — of orchestrating the latest attacks.
Many Janjaweed members have been integrated into the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, de facto deputy leader of Sudan, according to rights groups.
In 2003, a bitter civil war rocked Darfur pitting ethnic minority rebels complaining of discrimination against the Arab-dominated government under then-president Omar al-Bashir.
More than 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.
Darfur, which remains awash with weapons, has seen a spike in deadly violence since October last year triggered by disputes mainly over land, livestock and access to water and grazing.
Renewed violence in Darfur comes asin October last year led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
His power grab reversed a transition to full civilian rule that was set in motion after Bashir’s ouster in 2019.
Burhan met senior security officials on Sunday and they agreed to dispatch reinforcements to contain the violence, according to a statement issued after their meeting.
The United Nations, Britain and the United States have condemned the latest violence in Darfur and called for an investigation.
Darfur governor Mini Minawi on Sunday said recurrent clashes in the region were often due to the “slowed (response), complicity, or participation” of security forces.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.