, NYALA, July 10 – Elite Sudanese troops have been deployed in Sudan’s second largest city after days of violence among members of the security forces, as residents begin the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in fear of new clashes.
An AFP correspondent was the first from a foreign news organisation to arrive in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, since the worst outbreak of urban warfare in Sudan’s far-west region in recent memory.
Most fighting in Darfur has occurred in poverty stricken rural regions and smaller communities.
State officials blamed “differences” among members of the security forces for the battles which began inside Nyala on July 3.
Fighting left a war crimes suspect wounded and killed two Sudanese World Vision aid workers, among others.
Travelling into the city about six kilometres (four miles) from the Nyala airport, the correspondent said he counted about 12 gun mounted SUV vehicles belonging to the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) the country’s most elite forces, which are separate from the army.
Up to 10 troops were stationed with each gun car.
“It is calm but we don’t trust this calm because everyone has weapons, and they are not under control. They can use them at any time,” one resident said, afraid to give his name.
Fighting in Nyala was sparked when security forces allegedly killed a notorious local bandit who was also an officer in the paramilitary Central Reserve Police.
Darfuri members of the Reserve formerly belonged to the Janjaweed, a government-backed militia which shocked the world with atrocities against ethnic minority civilians suspected of supporting rebels.
The ethnic minority rebels began their uprising against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime in 2003.
Security problems have been compounded by inter tribal fighting, kidnappings, carjackings and other crimes, many suspected to be the work of government linked militia and paramilitary groups.
Hardship faces Nyala residents as they begin the Ramadan month of dawn-to-dusk fasting.