A massive fire broke out Wednesday in a shopping mall near the Presidential Palace in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, according to local media.
Several shops were reportedly gutted in the flames. The Al-Sudani local newspaper said civil defense forces rushed to the scene, locally known as Naivasha Market, in an attempt to put out the fire.
No information is available yet regarding the injuries. The cause of the fire remains unknown, according to Anadolu Agency (AA).
Another fire last year caused partial damage to the Presidential Palace.
Sudan has suffered from various accidents in recent months, raising concerns about the adequacy of health and safety regulations. A fresh bout of Darfur violence has also posed challenges for Sudan's transitional government and displaced more than 100,000 people since the beginning of the year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In January, armed men tried to storm the residence of a provincial governor in the Darfur region but were repelled by guards. There were no injuries or damage in the attempted attack on West Darfur Gov. Mohammed Abdalla al-Douma’s residence in the provincial capital of Genena, but it underscored the heightened tensions in the restive region where a bout of tribal violence killed around 230 people the week before.
A statement from the governor said the attempted attack sought to create "instability and chaos" in the province. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the statement did not say who the attackers were. A military official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, said the attackers opened fire on the heavily fortified residence, prompting the guards to return fire.
The exchange lasted for over an hour. The Darfur 24 news outlet reported heavy gunfire in Genena's neighborhood of Gamarek where the governor's residence is located.
Another incident took place last month when officials from Khartoum visited Genena to discuss the tribal clashes with the governor.
Fighting between members of the Arab Rizeigat tribe and the non-Arab Massalit tribe grew out of a fistfight in a Genena camp for displaced people on Jan. 15. Some 160 people on both sides, including women and children, were killed in the clashes.
Among the dead in the West Darfur violence were three aid workers, two of whom were Sudanese nationals, said the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, Babacar Cisse, according to The Associated Press (AP). Two worked for the Triangle Generation Humanitaire (TGH), and the third for International Aid Services (IAS). One of the workers was killed along with his wife and his son, said the U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the killing for privacy reasons.
The fighting also led to the displacement of at least 90,000 people, who took shelter in schools, government buildings and nearby villages, according to the U.N. Authorities in West Darfur imposed a 24-hour curfew for the entire province and authorized military and police to use "all necessary force" to regain order. The central government in Khartoum also deployed security reinforcements.
In South Darfur province, clashes Monday between the Rizeigat and non-Arab Falata tribe killed around 70 people, according to Gov. Mousa Mahdi. The clashes were sparked by the killing of a shepherd in the al-Twaiyel village, 85 kilometers (53 miles) south of Nyala, the provincial capital. Mahdi, who visited the village on Tuesday, vowed to bring to justice those who instigated the violence.
The violence in Darfur is an additional burden on the country's transitional government, which has been struggling to end the civil war in the country’s far-flung areas. It is also a major test to the government’s ability to protect civilians in the war-torn region following the end of the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force’s mandate in Darfur this month.
Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow longtime autocratic Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, after nearly three decades of rule. A military-civilian government is now in power.
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