Darfur fighting kills more than 100


Khartoum - A surge in violence in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region has killed more than 100 people and forced 100 000 to flee, the United Nations said on Wednesday, sharply increasing its estimates after weeks of clashes.

Fighters caught up in a dispute over control of a gold mine had set fire to more than three dozen villages in the north of the region, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali AlZatari, said in a statement.

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UNAMID peacekeepers from South Africa unload boxes of medication to deliver to the Rural Hospital in Kutum, North Darfur, August 12, 2012. The area saw a recent spate of violent incidents since August 1, which saw at least 6 killed, including the local district commissioner, according to the United Nations. REUTERS/Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID/Handout (SUDAN - Tags: MILITARY CIVIL UNREST) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

More than 100 people had died and around 70 000 people had been displaced by the fighting between rival Arab tribes that broke out more than a week ago in the Jebel Amer area, he added.

Another 30 000 people had left their homes after separate fighting between the army and a rebel group in the central Jebel Marra area that started late in December, the U.N. said.

Conflict has raged in vast arid region for almost a decade since mainly non-Arab tribes took up arms against the Arab government in Khartoum in 2003, accusing it of political and economic marginalisation.

Violence overall has ebbed since the massacres reported in the early days of the uprising. But the latest clashes have been some of the worst in the area for months.

“The largest concentration of displaced people is in El Sireif where thousands of people are in urgent need of food, water, shelter and medical attention,” Zatari said in the statement.

Last week the United Nations said the gold mine dispute and the Jebel Marra fighting had displaced a total of 30 000 people.

Rebel divisions and a string of broken ceasefires have scuppered years of international mediation and several rounds of peace talks. Banditry has also spread.

Events in Darfur are hard to verify as Sudan restricts travel by journalists, aid workers and diplomats.

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other Sudanese officials to face charges of masterminding war crimes in Darfur. They deny the charges and refuse to recognise the court.

Human rights groups and the United Nations estimate hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur's conflict. The government says around 10 000 people have been killed. - Reuters

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