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Dozens reported killed in violence between Darfur's Arabic tribes

CAIRO -- Darfur's nomadic Arabs, some of them part of the feared janjaweed militia implicated in atrocities against civilians, have turned on each other in clashes that reportedly killed dozens this week.

Arab tribal fighting, increasing since last fall, might add to the difficulties facing a force of 26,000 UN peacekeepers who are expected to deploy to Darfur by the end of December. The UN Security Council authorized the peacekeepers on Tuesday to try to stop the bloodshed in the Sudanese region, where most of the violence has raged between Arabs and ethnic Africans.

The rival Arab tribes are believed to be battling over land in southern Darfur, some of it left behind by ethnic Africans who fled janjaweed attacks in the region. Sudan's government, which has led more than a dozen reconciliation efforts between the tribes, denied yesterday that the violence was getting out of hand.

The Darfur conflict began in February 2003 when ethnic African tribes rebelled against what they considered decades of neglect and discrimination by the Sudanese government.

The government is accused of retaliating by arming Arab nomads to form the janjaweed, which are blamed for killing and raping civilians in attacks on ethnic African villages. Sudan denies the charges.

More than 200,000 people have died, and 2.5 million have been uprooted.

The tribal violence recently increased in South Darfur over control of agricultural and grazing land around Nyala, about 600 miles southwest of Sudan's capital, Khartoum.

The independent daily Al-Sudani and the opposition Rai Al-Shaab newspaper, reporting from Nyala, the provincial capital of South Darfur, said yesterday that clashes between the Rizzaigat and the Tarjem tribes near the city left at least 82 dead and at least 20 others wounded.

Rai Al-Shaab quoted eyewitnesses as saying a group of Rizzaigat tribesmen, mounted on 12 heavily armed pickups, attacked a group of Tarjem men Tuesday in an open area some 20 miles southwest of Nyala, where they were attending the funeral of a man slain earlier in the week in another clash between the two tribes.