Plane crash in Sudan kills all on board, 48 dead in Darfur tribal clashes

Reports said the Antonov military plane was ferrying judges and injured persons from the city of El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state near the border with Chad – to Khartoum.
Antonov military plane crash in Darfur conveying judges and wounded persons. Reuters/Radio Miraya

A Sudanese military plane carrying judges and injured people in tribal clashes that have occurred since last weekend on Thursday crashed in the Darfur region of the country, with all those on board killed, according to the Sudanese Red Crescent.

Sudanese media reported that the Antonov plane was travelling from the city of El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state near the border with Chad – to the Sudanese capital Khartoum when the crash occurred, killing all on board. 

Investigations are ongoing by aviation authorities to determine the cause of the crash but reports said that the aircraft had carried humanitarian aid to residents affected by the violence.

Another report said the plane was transporting people injured in a tribal conflict in El Geneina, Darfur including some judges to Khartoum for treatment when it crashed. 

The plane’s crew comprised three Sudanese army officers, a Dpa news agency report said. 

It was not immediately clear how many people the plane had been transporting.

More than 48 killed in clashes 

At least 48 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in the tribal fighting in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur, the Red Crescent said earlier on Thursday. 

The armed clashes broke out on Sunday night in El Geneina and continued until Monday between Arab and African groups, with several houses torched, the aid group said.

At least 48 bodies were transferred to a morgue in the city, while 241 were wounded, including 19 in critical condition who were flown to Khartoum for treatment, the Red Crescent said in a statement.

“This morning the situation is calm,” the statement was quoted by the AFP news agency. 

The Khartoum government had imposed a curfew across West Darfur on Monday and launched an investigation into the bloodshed, while a delegation of senior officials visited the area.

The government also deployed troops to El Geneina to restore order.

Residents of the state capital who spoke to AFP by phone said security forces were patrolling main roads in the city, and confirmed that the fighting had subsided.

According to Sudanese media, the fighting erupted after a row between two people. 

A woman reached by phone said she had fled the Krinding camp for displaced Masalit, a non-Arab ethnic group, near El Geneina after assailants torched tents there.

“Our tents were set on fire. We have no food and only the clothes on our back and there are bodies littering the ground,” she told AFP.

In January 2016, six people were killed in unrest in West Darfur following violence involving Masalit tribesmen and members of the Arab Beni Halba tribe.

The latest clashes sparked rallies in Khartoum, with protesters marching to the prime minister’s office and the justice ministry carrying signs calling for an “end to massacres in the camps of the displaced”.

They also called on authorities to punish the culprits.

Darfur — made up of five states — spiralled into conflict in 2003. 

The Darfur fighting broke out when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government of now ousted president Omar al-Bashir, whom they accused of marginalising the region.

The conflict left around 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million others, the UN says.

Bashir, who is behind bars for corruption and awaiting trial on other charges, is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in Darfur.

Sudan said on December 22 it had opened a probe into crimes committed in Darfur.

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