Fears of ethnic cleansing mount in Sudan’s West Darfur

The abduction and execution of a regional governor in Sudan has raised fears that the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is aiding a campaign of ethnic cleansing, survivors and experts have said.

Khamis Abakar, the governor of West Darfur, was killed hours after he criticised the RSF and allied Arab fighters of “genocide“, in an interview on June 14 with a Saudi news channel.His body was found in el-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur.

“Civilians are being killed randomly and in large numbers,” he told Al Hadath TV, urging the international community to intervene to protect people in el-Geneina. “We haven’t seen the army leave its base to defend people.”

The RSF denied any responsibility and blamed the killing on outlaws fighting a “tribal conflict”.

The Sudan Conflict Observatory, an independent monitor funded by the United States, said the RSF was responsible for what it called an extrajudicial killing.

“The entire city is under the RSF and the [Arab] militias cooperate with them. Today, all of el-Geneina is destroyed,” Abakar told Al Hadath. “There is no protection for us whether from the central government or from the regional government.”

Abakar was from the non-Arab, Masalit tribe. According to witness and rights groups, Arab militias and the RSF – a group mostly composed of Arab recruits – have targeted Masalit displacement camps, killed people attempting to escape to neighbouring Chad, kidnapped and raped women and executed influential figures in the community, such as tribal leaders and human rights lawyers and monitors.

Witnesses have spoken of corpses lying on the streets for days and at least 1,100 people have reportedly died so far.

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