Arab tribesmen shot dead eight ethnic minority villagers as they prayed in a revenge killing in Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region, a medic and a tribal leader said on Monday.
Two children were among five villagers wounded in the Sunday evening attack on a mosque in Arzini in West Darfur.
“There are eight bodies in the mortuary,” a medic from the main hospital in West Darfur state capital Geneina told AFP on condition of anonymity.
“All have been killed by bullets to the head or chest,” he said.
A prominent West Darfur tribal leader said the villagers were from the Masalit minority.
“There was a dispute between an Arab and a Masalit man over a payment in the local market yesterday (Sunday),” Sultan Saad Baherddin told AFP by the telephone from Geneina hospital.
“In the ensuing quarrel, the Arab lashed the Masalit man with a whip, and he then stabbed the Arab to death with a knife.”
Arab supporters of the dead man later gathered and demanded compensation from the villagers of Arzini, Baherddin said.
“When the villagers failed to raise the hefty compensation during the day, gunmen attacked them in the evening when they were praying in the village mosque,” he said.
“The armed Arab men just started shooting the villagers. Eight villagers have been killed in the attack.”
Hundreds of relatives and supporters of the dead men gathered at Geneina hospital on Monday to take the bodies for burial, witnesses said.
“There is tension in Geneina. The authorities have deployed soldiers across the town’s main streets,” a resident said.
“The authorities have ordered the town’s main market to be closed, and government offices have been shut for the day.”
Darfur has been gripped by conflict since 2003, when ethnic minority rebels rose up against the Arab-dominated regime of President Omar al-Bashir.
Bashir launched a brutal counterinsurgency and at least 300,000 people have been killed, the United Nations says. Another 2.5 million have fled their homes.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges related to Darfur, which he denies.