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Gunmen impose toll charges on highway linking Darfur’s largest cities

August 5, 2014 (NYALA) – Unidentified armed men on Monday imposed toll charges on buses travelling between South Darfur state capital Nyala and North Darfur state capital El-Fashir.

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A Sudanese woman in Nyala, Darfur (AFP)

The group set up more than 40 tents on the road to collect tolls amounting to 1,200 Sudanese pounds (SDG) on each bus.

The chairman of the buses owners’ union in Nyala, Ali Shomo, told Sudan Tribune that the gunmen forcibly imposed exorbitant amounts on the buses under the pretext that they would secure passengers and their belonging against looting.

He added the armed men stopped buses heading to El-Fashir at Dimma area, 28 km from Nyala.

Shomo praised mediation efforts led by the traditional administration leaders in the area, adding the armed militias reduced the toll to 200 SDG following these mediations.

He demanded the governments of the two states to provide security along the road which links between Nyala and El-Fashir.

A security source said these militias run off to the outskirts of Nyala following the recent security measures applied by the government, underscoring that security authorities would follow them wherever they go.

South Darfur state has witnessed a near total security breakdown in recent months with recurrent incidents of looting, banditry and murder including from pro-government militias.

Businessmen and commercial convoys in South Darfur are regularly attacked by armed gangs which demand ransom for their release.

Last month, unidentified gunmen killed the commissioner of Katila county in South Darfur, Abdallah Yassin, who was returning to his county from the state capital Nyala.

Robbers last month also stormed a mall in Nyala and stole a large sum of money before escaping in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

On 15 July, the governor of South Darfur state, Adam Mahmoud Jar al-Nabi, declared an indefinite emergency situation in South Darfur state, including a curfew from 7pm to 7am in Nyala.

The decision also banned riding of motorcycles by more than one person, holding weapons while wearing civilian clothes, vehicles driving around without licence plates, and wearing a kadamool (turban which covers the face).

It also prohibited tinted glasses on cars in Nyala even for government officials unless permission is being obtained from the traffic police. The decision further prevented firing of gunshots in social events in Nyala.

A special tribunal has been set up to investigate crimes, with residents supplied with phone numbers to contact authorities to report crimes and other violations of the emergency laws.

(ST)