The governor of Sudan's southern Blue Nile state declared a state of emergency Friday, giving security forces full powers to stop ethnic fighting that has left 150 people dead. The situation has worsened since last year's coup by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
"The state of emergency is decreed in the whole of Blue Nile State for 30 days," said the provincial decree seen by AFP for the state bordering South Sudan and Ethiopia.
It called on commanders of the police, army, intelligence services and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces "to intervene by all possible means to stop inter-tribal fighting".
Clashes in Blue Nile broke out last week after reported disputes over land between members of the Hausa people and rival groups, with residents reporting hundreds fleeing intense gunfire and homes set ablaze.
The fighting has centred around the Wad al-Mahi area near Roseires, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) south of the capital Khartoum.
"A total of 150 people, including women, children and elderly, were killed between Wednesday and Thursday," said the head of Wad al-Mahi hospital, Abbas Moussa. "Around 86 people were also wounded in the violence."
Deepening political unrest
The authorities had imposed a night-time curfew on Monday after 13 people were killed in clashes between the Hausa and rival groups, according to the UN, but the violence then flared again.
On Thursday, several hundred people demonstrated in the Blue Nile capital, Damazin, shouting: "No to violence". Some demanded the state's Governor Ahmed al-Omda Badi be sacked, accusing him of not protecting them.
From July to early October, at least 149 people were killed and 65,000 displaced in Blue Nile, according to the UN.
The Hausa have mobilised across Sudan, claiming they are discriminated against by tribal law which forbids them to own land in Blue Nile because they were the last group to arrive there.
The issue of access to land is highly sensitive in impoverished Sudan, where agriculture and livestock account for 43 percent of employment and 30 per cent of GDP.
Sudan has been grappling with deepening political unrest and a spiralling economic crisis since last year's military coup led by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
The military power grab upended a transition to civilian rule launched after the 2019 ouster of strongman Omar al-Bashir, who ruled for three decades.
Surge in inter-communal conflicts
A surge in ethnic violence in recent months has highlighted the security breakdown in Sudan since the coup.
More than 546 people were killed and over 211,000 forced to flee their homes in inter-communal conflicts across the country from January to September, according to the UN.
The UN mission in Sudan said it was "alarmed" by the "resurgence of conflict" in Blue Nile, a region awash with guns that is still struggling to rebuild after decades of civil war.
Meanwhile, thousands of Sudanese took to the streets Friday to renew protests nearly a year after al-Burhan's coup.
Demonstrators gathered in Khartoum and its suburbs Friday, shouting "no to military rule", "the people want the fall of the regime" and for the military to return "to the barracks", AFP journalists said.
Security forces had cordoned off the capital early in the morning, shutting off access to bridges, as the resistance committees responsible for mobilising against the coup had for days been calling for protests on social media.
At least 117 people have been killed in the protests against military rule since the power-grab, according to pro-democracy medics.
Friday also marked the 58th anniversary of the first uprising that toppled a military dictatorship in the country that has a history riddled with coups, only seeing brief spells of democratic rule over the decades.