Thousands of Hausa in Sudan protest on Tuesday in several cities, demanding justice for dozens of comrades killed in a deadly land dispute with a rival ethnic group in the country’s south.
The protests, fueled by anger over recent violence, are the latest riots to sweep the northeast African nation, which has already recovered from months of mass demonstrations demanding a return to civilian rule after last year’s military coup.
At least 79 people have been killed and 199 injured since heavy fighting erupted between Berti and Hausa groups in Blue Nile state last week, the health ministry said.
While the army was deployed to the Blue Nile and fighting there was crushed, protests have since erupted in other states with marches on the streets of the capital Khartoum, as well as in the key eastern cities of Gedaref, Kassala and Port Sudan.
On Tuesday, Hausa protesters in Khartoum held up signs demanding “justice for the Blue Nile martyrs” and “no killing of Hausa.”
The fight reportedly broke out on July 11 after Bertis rejected House’s request for a “civilian body to oversee access to land,” a prominent House member told AFP on condition of anonymity.
But senior leader Bertie said the group was reacting to the “disturbance” of their Hausa land.
Bloody clashes regularly take place in Sudan over land, livestock, access to water and pastures, especially in areas inundated with weapons that are still struggling with the effects of decades of civil war.
– ‘Revenge’ –
However, experts say the October coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Buran triggered a surge in ethnic violence.
In Gedaref, about 4,000 people marched chanting “Hausa citizens too” and “Revenge on the Blue Nile Martyrs”.
About 500 people also “blocked the highway” in the town of Al-Shovak in Gedaref state, eyewitness Saleh Abbas told AFP.
In El Obeid, the capital of North Kordofan state, about 3,000 people marched through the streets chanting “The Hausa will win,” and in Port Sudan, on the Red Sea, thousands of Hausa gathered outside the local government, calling for “justice for the martyrs.” . .
In Kassala, authorities banned public gatherings after thousands of Hausa demonstrators “set fire to government buildings and shops,” Hussein Saleh, another witness, said.
Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, mired in an economic crisis that worsened after Burhan seized power last year, has seen only rare periods of civilian rule since independence.
The Blue Nile, where fighting broke out last week, was a key battleground for rebels trying to overthrow former President Omar al-Bashir during the 1983-2005 Sudanese civil war, and fighting resumed again in 2011.
After massive protests against his rule in 2019, the army toppled Bashir.
The following year, a power-sharing civil-military government reached a peace agreement with key rebel groups, including those from the Blue Nile, as well as from war-ravaged western Darfur.
In recent months, Darfur has also seen a new surge of deadly violence.
Pro-democracy activists accused the Sudanese military and former rebel leaders who signed the peace deal of escalating ethnic tensions for political gain.