Sudan’s newly-created sovereign council formally declared a state of emergency in Port Sudan city following tribal clashes police say killed at least 16.
The acting governor and head of the national security service for the eastern Red Sea state, of which Port Sudan is capital, were both dismissed said Brigadier Altahir Abuhaja, sovereign council spokesman.
The joint military-civilian sovereign council was sworn in last week, as was Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, set to form a government this week.
Clashes between the Beni Amer and Nuba tribes, which flared up in the past, were re-ignited and continued into the weekend, a police statement said.
Eyewitnesses told Reuters they heard and saw gunfire in the Port Sudan neighbourhoods where both tribes live.
Port Sudan is Sudan’s main sea gateway and is used by South Sudan to export oil.
“Relevant authorities observed the use of firearms in conflict for the first time, which reveals the existence of external and internal interference to fuel conflict and spread it,” Abuhaja said.
Security services are on high readiness to quell any escalation, and an investigative committee was formed, he added.
The police statement said reinforcements were sent to the area.
“The transitional sovereign council emphasises the neutrality of the military and security services. Anyone shown to be biased to either side will be dealt with decisively,” Abuhaja said.
Two members of the sovereign council visited Port Sudan on Thursday and met with tribal leaders in an attempt to end fighting.
According to the power-sharing agreement, the sovereign council declares a state of emergency following a request from the cabinet, not yet in existence. The state of emergency must be approved by the legislature within 15 days, according to the agreement, although the legislature is yet to be formed.