Eighteen people including four children were killed Thursday in the crash of a Sudanese military plane in Darfur after transporting aid to this region of western Sudan, bruised by new violence, the army said .
According to an army press release, the plane crashed five minutes after taking off from the airport of El Geneina, capital of the state of West Darfur, struck in recent days by fighting between tribes which nearly 50 dead.
“An Antonov 12 military plane crashed after taking off from El Geneina. All of its occupants, seven crew members, three judges and eight civilians, including four children, perished, ”said military spokesman Amer Mohammed Al-Hassan, in the statement.
An investigation is underway to determine the causes of the tragedy, the army said.
Earlier, a military source reported on the crash of a plane that had delivered humanitarian aid to residents affected by the violence in El Geneina without providing further details.
According to the local Red Crescent, at least 48 people were killed and 241 injured Sunday and Monday during fighting between rival Arab and African tribes in El Geneina in Darfur, a region torn apart by violence since 2003.
Nineteen of the injured are in critical condition and have been transferred to Khartoum, 1,100 km east of El Geneina.
Residents contacted by phone confirmed to the AFP that the fighting had stopped and indicated that security forces were patrolling the main roads of the city.
The government imposed a curfew in West Darfur on Monday. An official delegation visited the area and troops were deployed to El Geneina. According to Sudanese media, the clashes broke out after an argument between two people.
A woman contacted by phone told AFP that she had fled Krinding camp, a camp for internally displaced persons from the non-Arab Masalit ethnic minority near El Geneina, after attackers set fire to tents.
“We have no food and only the clothes we wear. Bodies are lying on the ground ”in the camp, she said.
In January 2016, six people were killed in violence in West Darfur between members of the Masalit tribe and members of the Arab tribe of Beni Halba. The clashes had sparked protests in Khartoum demanding « an end to the massacres in the IDP camps ».
Darfur has been torn apart by violence since rebels from ethnic minorities took up arms in 2003 against the central government of Omar al-Bashir, accusing him of marginalizing their region.
In late December, the Sudanese government and nine rebel groups adopted a road map to end the conflict in Darfur.
Incarcerated since his dismissal by the army in April 2019 under pressure from the street, Mr. Béchir was found guilty of corruption. An investigation was also opened against him and 50 Sudanese officials for crimes in Darfur.
Mr. Béchir is the subject of two international arrest warrants issued in 2009 and 2010 by the International Criminal Court for « genocide », « crimes against humanity » and « war crimes » in Darfur.