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Five security forces killed in attack in Sudan’s Darfur

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Five Sudanese security forces were killed in an ambush by an “outlawed” armed group in the restive Darfur region, police said in a statement Friday.

“A joint security force comprising the armed forces, police and the Rapid Support Forces came under treacherous attack yesterday evening by an outlawed group in Central Darfur state,” the statement said, without identifying the group.

The attack “left five security forces killed including a police lieutenant”, it said, adding that an unspecified number of others were wounded.

It was not immediately clear if there were casualties among the assailants.

Sudan has been reeling from deepening unrest since a military coup in October last year, led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The move ousted key civilian groups from power and derailed a fragile transition that had been in place following the 2019 ouster of longtime president Omar al-Bashir.

The power grab exacerbated political and economic turmoil in the country, and the security situation has also deteriorated, with a spike in ethnic clashes in Sudan’s far-flung regions.

Last month, Burhan pledged to step aside and make way for civilian groups to form a new government, but the main civilian bloc dismissed the move as a “ruse”.

Sudan’s westernmost Darfur region has seen deadly violence since the coup.

In June, more than 125 people were killed in clashes between Arab and non-Arab groups in West Darfur state, according to the United Nations.

Civil conflict erupted in Darfur in 2003, pitting ethnic minority rebels who complained of discrimination against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government.

Khartoum then unleashed the Janjaweed, mainly recruited from Arab pastoralist tribes, who were blamed for atrocities including murder, rape, looting and burning villages.

The scorched-earth campaign left 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.5 million, according to the United Nations.

Many Janjaweed have since been integrated into the feared paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, now de facto deputy leader of Sudan, according to rights groups.

In 2020, Sudan signed a peace deal with key rebel groups including from Darfur.

The main conflict has subsided over the years, but the region remains awash with weapons and deadly clashes often erupt over access to pasture or water.

On Monday, Daglo said the October coup had failed to bring about change in Sudan.

“The whole thing failed and now we (Sudan) have become worse,” he said.