Tribal clashes erupt in Sudan's West Kordofan state
KHARTOUM - Clashes between two Arab tribes have erupted in Sudan's West Kordofan state, causing several casualties, state media and tribal sources said Monday.
The fierce fighting between the Hamar and Kababish tribes appeared to have been sparked by a theft of camels, a Hamar tribal source said.
The clashes began Sunday when Kababish tribesman arrived in four-wheel-drive vehicles and started firing machine guns at a market in a village in West Kordofan, the source said on condition of anonymity.
"The fighting quickly spread and is continuing even today," he said, adding that both sides were using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).
"The presence of police on the ground is very small, and if the fighting continues tomorrow then the situation will turn bad," he said.
The official SUNA news agency reported that Khartoum had set up a committee to initiate reconciliation between the two tribes of nomadic camel herders, which historically have had good relations.
Osman Kababish, the West Kordofan police chief, said the situation was under control.
"We are trying to arrest those responsible for the fighting," he told SUNA.
Sudan's leading opposition Umma party said it was following the situation with "grave concern".
"The fighting has caused several casualties and the casualties are rising steadily," Umma, which has wide support in West Kordofan, said in a statement, without providing exact figures.
It was not possible to independently verify the casualties, as Khartoum limits access of international journalists to conflict areas.
Tribal clashes are frequent occurences in several regions of Sudan, including in Darfur where a conflict since 2003 has killed tens of thousands of people.
In April, as many as 20 people were killed in clashes between two rival Arab tribes in East Darfur which were sparked by livestock thefts.