Sudanese Arabs Flee Rampage in South
Sudanese Arabs fled this southern town Wednesday after ethnic Africans angered by the death of their popular rebel leader went on a two-day rampage, chasing Arabs in the street and burning their shops and homes. At least 18 people were killed, witnesses said.
Gunfire could be heard Wednesday night in Juba, southern Sudan’s largest town and a focal point of a peace deal between the north and south. Heavy police and army patrols circulated on otherwise empty dirt roads.
At the airport, dozens of Arabs lined up with baggage to wait for flights to the capital, Khartoum.
Violence erupted after the death of John Garang, the charismatic rebel leader who for 22 years fought for southern Sudan to gain independence from the Khartoum government in the mainly Muslim Arab north. The southern region is home to ethnic Africans, mostly animists and Christians.
Garang died in a helicopter crash Saturday night, just three weeks after becoming vice president under a power-sharing agreement.
The government and Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement say the crash was an accident. But outraged southerners rioted in Juba and other cities, some believing the government was behind the crash.
In Khartoum, 720 miles north of Juba, 82 people were killed in three days of violence after Garang’s death, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Angry supporters of Garang rioted in Khartoum on Monday, setting vehicles on fire, looting shops and beating people. In retaliation, groups of northern Arab men armed with sticks and firearms raged through homes and markets, mainly in outlying neighborhoods of southerners, destroying property and beating people.
On Wednesday, soldiers and police patrolled Khartoum in armored vehicles and pickup trucks.