This is a demand that could further amplify the cycle of violence in Sudan. Darfur's governor on Sunday urged civilians in the vast western region to arm themselves, the latest such call after more than six weeks of war between rival generals.

"I call on the 'people of Darfur', young and old, women and men, to take up arms to defend their property," former rebel leader Minni Minnawi, now close to the army, said on Twitter. Since April 15, the conflict has killed more than 1,800 people in Sudan, and more than half in Darfur, according to the NGO ACLED.

Many weapons are already circulating

The region most affected by the fighting with Khartoum, Darfur, bordering Chad, was already ravaged in the 2000s by a deadly war. Since the beginning of the fighting on April 15, the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the paramilitaries of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo have clashed "with all types of weapons", according to residents.

Alongside them, according to the UN, are armed civilians and tribal or rebel fighters, raising the spectre of civil war in a country where, according to the Small Arms Survey (SAS) research project, 6.6% of the 45 million inhabitants own a firearm. The army had already called on Friday retired soldiers to take up arms again. And in early May, in the east, hundreds of members of the Beja tribes demonstrated to demand arms from General Burhane.

Other actors could also choose weapons. "People who belonged to non-violent movements are now thinking of arming themselves to protect themselves," said pro-democracy activist Raga Makawi.

In six weeks, the war has displaced more than a million people and more than 300,000 refugees in neighboring countries, according to the UN. More than half of Sudan's population now needs humanitarian aid to survive, according to the United Nations.

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