Seven ex-rebels killed in clashes in Sudan's Darfur
Seven fighters from former rebel groups that signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government last year have died in clashes in Darfur, state media reported Saturday.
The violence, which lasted until early Friday, broke out in the Kugli and Galab districts of North Darfur state, the official SUNA news agency reported. It was not immediately clear what triggered the fighting.
"Seven people belonging to forces party to the peace deal were killed in clashes against an unidentified group," SUNA reported.
The violence prompted senior Sudanese officials to launch an investigation, it added.
On Saturday, a group of Arab tribes said the clashes pitted Arab farmers against fighters of two former rebel groups in Darfur - the Sudan Liberation Forces Alliance and the Sudan Liberation Movement.
Both groups signed a peace deal last October with the transitional government installed after the overthrow of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
The SLFA is led by Altaher Hagar, who was appointed to Sudan's ruling council in February along with two other former rebel leaders party to the deal.
In May, SLM leader Mini Minawi was appointed governor of Darfur, a vast region the size of France.
Fighters from both groups were deployed alongside government troops in Darfur following the end of a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping mission in December.
The ethnic minority rebels rose up against Bashir's Arab-dominated government in 2003, drawing a scorched earth response that sparked international outrage.
The United Nations says some 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced as the government armed militias among the region's Arab tribes.
Fighting in the region has largely subsided but it remains awash with weapons and deadly clashes still erupt, often over access to pasture or water.