Mon May 23, 2016 02:31PM
A picture released by UNAMID shows newly internally displaced persons in Sortoni, Sudan's North Darfur state, on February 9, 2016. (AFP photo)
A picture released by UNAMID shows newly internally displaced persons in Sortoni, Sudan's North Darfur state, on February 9, 2016. (AFP photo)

Gunmen have killed eight people from a Sudanese ethnic minority group and injured five others as they were praying in a mosque in the country’s war-torn Darfur region.

The incident occurred on Sunday evening at a mosque in the village of Arzini in West Darfur state and the victims were from Sudan’s Masalit minority, according to a Sudanese medical source speaking on condition of anonymity.

"There are eight bodies in the mortuary," the source said, adding “all have been killed by bullets to the head or chest."

Two children were among the villagers wounded in the assault, he noted.

A senior tribal leader in West Darfur also confirmed the number of fatalities, saying the attack was the result of a quarrel between an Arab man and a Masalit member over a payment in the local market.

He said the dispute led to the deadly stabbing of the Arab which prompted his supporters to perpetrate revenge killing against the minority group.

This photo taken on April 12, 2016 shows Sudanese children standing next to a member of the UN-African Union mission in Darfur (UNAMID) at the Zamzam camp for internally displaced persons in Northern Darfur. (AFP photo)

Darfur has been the scene of violence since 2003, when rebels took up arms against the government in Khartoum. There has also been tribal fighting in the region. 

Some 2.5 million people in Darfur have been displaced from the region, according to the latest UN figures, which also show that over 300,000 people have died there since the violence began in the region.

The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was launched in 2007 in a bid to protect civilians and restore stability to the restive region. 

Darfur was a united region from its incorporation into Sudan in 1916 until 1994, when President Omar al- Bashir divided it into three states, adding two more in 2012.

Washington has also imposed trade sanctions against Sudan since 1997, citing the situation in Darfur.