Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been blamed for the assassination and dismemberment of a senior government official, amid growing reports of violence in the restive Darfur region amid the country’s devastating war. mass killings.
This week, West Darfur Governor Khamis Abdallah Abbakar was murdered during an interview with a Saudi-owned TV station in which he criticized the RSF and described a field “genocide”.
The United Nations said that “convincing witnesses have attributed the act to Arab militias and Support Forces Without Borders”, while the Darfur Bar Association condemned the “barbaric, brutal and brutal” act.
The war in Sudan, which entered its third month on Thursday, now has more than 2,000 reported deaths, according to the latest figures from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, as of June 9. The true number of casualties could be several times higher.
The conflict has pitted forces led by Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan against his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. ), Dagalo, a former warlord from Darfur also known as Hemedti.
Burhan accused the RSF of carrying out “perfidious attacks” in Darfur. The paramilitary group denied responsibility and said in a statement that they condemned the “cold-blooded assassination” of Abakar, who was killed after being abducted under the protection of Reporters Without Borders “at the request of the governor”.
Abakar is from the Masalet ethnic group that has been targeted in recent weeks. Many Masaleet judges, lawyers, doctors, teachers, aid workers and other professionals were killed in what appeared to be a systematic campaign to murder potential leaders.
Abakar is the head of the Darfur armed group Sudan United Movement, which is a signatory to the 2020 Juba peace deal that has brought a fragile peace to the region.
Kholood Khair, a Sudanese analyst at the Khartoum-based think tank Confluence Advisory, said in a tweet that the “heinous assassination” was an attempt to “suppress his emphasis on genocide…in Darfur”.
Khair added that it was unclear “what the red line is” and urged the international community to “take action to protect people in Darfur and elsewhere”.
The killing came after U.S. and Saudi mediation efforts were suspended after multiple ceasefires broke down in flagrant violations by both sides.
Darfur, one of the main battlegrounds of the war, has been scarred by a two-year conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than two million.
Dagalo’s RSF has its roots in the Janjaweed militia that former authoritarian leader Omar al-Bashir deployed in 2003 against the region’s ethnic minorities, accusing them of genocide , war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Homes and markets were razed, hospitals and aid facilities looted, and more than 149,000 people fled to neighboring Chad.
The Umma Party, one of Sudan’s leading civic groups, said El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, had become a “disaster area” and urged international organizations to help.
The Darfur Bar Association reported that “RSF-backed cross-border militias” had committed “massacres and ethnic cleansing” in El Geneina.
In 2003, the Masaleites and other black African communities in Darfur rebelled against decades of political and economic marginalization by Khartoum’s elite, and they suffered massive violence and displacement.
Residents of El Geneina say the army and police have armed the Masaleites to fight the Arabs who are taking their land.
“More than 100,000 refugees have crossed the border to Chad, with dozens wounded by guns. They also describe the hundreds wounded and may be blocked in El Geneina and elsewhere, and they also testify to the dangers of the road to Chad, The militias have launched targeted attacks against people trying to cross the border,” said Jérôme Tubiana, a senior independent researcher in Darfur.
“Unfortunately, this level of violence is not unprecedented in West Darfur, and it reminds us of the height of government and militia attacks in 2003, exactly 20 years ago, if not earlier. The difference is , today in Khartoum there is no clear decision maker who can be forced to stop the violence – it’s more chaotic.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said some 6,000 people had fled Geneina in the past few days for the town of Adré in eastern Chad. Thirty-two people, including four women and four children, were taken to hospital in Adre on Wednesday, mainly from Tendelti and El Geneina. Dozens more were admitted to hospital today, MSF said. Most of the injuries were gunshot wounds.
More than 100,000 Sudanese refugees have arrived in eastern Chad. The crisis has displaced 2.2 million people, including 528,000 to neighboring countries, according to the International Organization for Migration.
MSF called for an expansion of the hitherto limited humanitarian response “to respond to their most urgent needs, while supporting the communities that host them and the thousands of refugees already in the region”.