Gunmen stormed a Darfur prison, setting free at least 90 detainees, officials and local media said Monday as sporadic violence continued to erupt throughout the western Sudanese region.
A large group of armed men driving pickup trucks overran the prison in the South Darfur town of Buram, injuring two guards, the semiofficial Sudan Media Center and other media reported.
Sudanese police did not comment and would not say who the detainees were and why they were in prison.
But a U.N. official in South Darfur said the attack appeared to have been conducted by fighters from the Salamat tribe of nomadic Arabs, who escaped with several of the detainees also believed to be Salamat. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
The Salamat and other Darfur nomadic tribes are among the groups suspected of belonging to the janjaweed, an Arab militia that the Sudanese government is accused of having armed and funded to fight Darfur's ethnic African rebels.
Tribes turning against one another
However, several Arab tribes in Darfur have voiced increasing discontent with Sudan's government, at times even turning against it and joining the rebels. Dozens of people have also been killed in recent months as Arab tribes, including the Salamat, turned against one another fighting for war spoils, especially in South Darfur.
More than 200,000 people have died in Darfur and 2.5 million been chased to refugee camps since 2003 when local rebels took arms against the Arab-dominated Sudanese government, accusing it of neglect and discrimination.
Khartoum denies it backed the janjaweed and has agreed to allow a United Nations peacekeeping mission that began deploying in the region this month. But the force's deployment is far behind schedule, and Western powers have so far failed to commit heavy equipment such as helicopters necessary for the mission to operate.
Sudan is also blamed for many bureaucratic hurdles delaying the peacekeepers.
9 killed in road ambush
Meanwhile, violence continued to target civilians and aid workers throughout the region. At least nine people were killed in recent days during a road ambush and an attack on a village by suspected militias in West Darfur, U.N. officials said.
The state of West Darfur is currently witnessing a spike of violence, with the army from neighboring Chad battling Chadian rebels along the border and a Darfur rebel group attacking several Sudanese army positions nearby.
Rebels from the Justice and Equality Movement claim to be closing-in on El Geneina, West Darfur's capital, and U.N. officials confirmed they now control large sectors near the border.