Sudanese security forces intervene as smoke billows from a burned tyre near a bridge that separates the two parts of the city of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, October 17, 2021. AFP
Fighting in Blue Nile province, which borders Ethiopia and South Sudan, reignited earlier this month over a land dispute. It pits the Hausa tribe, with origins across West Africa, against the Berta people.
The tensions escalated Wednesday and Thursday in the town of Wad el-Mahi on the border with Ethiopia, according to Fath Arrahman Bakheit, the director general of the Health Ministry in the Blue Nile.
He told The Associated Press that officials counted at least 220 dead as of Saturday night, adding the tally could be much higher since medical teams were not able to reach the epicentre of the fighting.
Bakheit said the first humanitarian and medical convoy managed to reach Was el-Mahi late Saturday to try to assess the situation, including counting ``this huge number of bodies,'' and the dozens of injured.
``In such clashes, everyone loses,'' he said. ``We hope it ends soon and never happens again. But we need strong political, security and civil interventions to achieve that goal.''
Footage from the scene, which corresponded to the AP's reporting, showed burned houses and charred bodies. Others showed women and children fleeing on foot.
Many houses were burned down in the fighting, which displaced some 7,000 people to the city of Rusyaris. Others fled to neighbouring provinces, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Overall, about 211,000 people have been displaced by tribal violence and other attacks across the country this year, it said.
Authorities ordered a nighttime curfew in Wad el-Mahi and deployed troops to the area. They also established a fact-finding committee to investigate the clashes, according to the state-run SUNA news agency.
The fighting between the two groups first erupted in mid-July, killing at least 149 people as of earlier October. It triggered violent protests and stoked tensions between the two tribes in Blue Nile and other provinces.