Sudan intensified security in the Red Sea state and imposed a curfew on Port Sudan, the state capital and Sudan’s main sea gateway, after 32 people died in tribal clashes there.
The country – one year into a three-year transition period after the overthrow of former president Omar al-Bashir – faces numerous challenges, including simmering insecurity in several regions and a deep economic crisis.
Security forces arrested 85 people over the recent violence, which also left 98 people wounded, and local authorities imposed a curfew in Port Sudan to restore order, the interior ministry said in a statement late on Wednesday. The casualties included security force members.
Local media reports and activists on social media said the clashes broke out between the Beni Amer and Nuba tribes, which have a history of conflict.
Last September, representatives of the two tribes had signed a reconciliation deal after deadly clashes.
The government deployed more security forces to the state to impose “the prestige of the state and the rule of law, and to strengthen security and stability”, the interior ministry said.
The security measures helped to stabilise the situation and led to “a cautious calm”, it added. Port Sudan is also used by South Sudan to export oil.
Prime Minster Abdalla Hamdok said in an earlier statement he had held several meetings during the past week with community and political leaders from eastern Sudan to address “the political, security and violence situation” in the region.
Hamdok is leading a transitional civilian government under a three-year power-sharing deal with the military.
He was named prime minister in August last year months after nationwide pro-democracy protests forced the military to remove al-Bashir from office.
While Hamdok’s transitional cabinet is tasked with the day-to-day running of the country, a joint civilian-military sovereign council headed by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan is overseeing an overall transition to civilian rule as demanded by the protest movement.
The tribal violence poses a significant challenge to the efforts of Sudan’s authorities to stabilise the country and led it to elections in 2022.