Darfur: renewed attacks on El Geneina, chaos in Kutum

An aerial view of Kutum in North Darfur, January 2016 (UNAMID / Hamid Abdulsalam)


El Geneina, capital of West Darfur capital, witnessed new attacks since Wednesday. Paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are killing and raping people in Kutum, North Darfur.

Groups of gunmen launched new attacks on El Geneina, capital of West Darfur, on Wednesday morning. “They came from various directions,” a listener reported from the heavily mauled city. “The fighting continued until sunset, when the attackers withdrew after encountering resistance by armed residents.”

The city remains besieged by groups of militants, who also control the vital Chad-bound road, making transportation between El Geneina and eastern Chad extremely challenging.

The communication blackout is continuing, exacerbating the already dire situation.

The West Darfur Doctors Syndicate said in a statement that the attacks targeted the eastern and southern neighbourhoods of El Geneina. They said they anticipate more, intensified attacks.

Civil services already collapsed in early May, when El Geneina and other places in West Darfur were attacked. The region has witnessed extensive human and material losses due to the attacks.

Earlier this week, the deputy governor of West Darfur reported that at least 850 people have been killed and more than 2,000 others were wounded in the attacks on El Geneina after the war broke out between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 15. Tens of thousands of people fled the city and sought refuge in other places in Darfur or crossed the border to Chad.

Raids and robberies

Members of the RSF continue to control Kutum in North Darfur. They are raiding homes in the town, robbing the residents of their belongings and vehicles, local sources told Radio Dabanga. “Those who resist are met with gunfire.”

The militiamen are also raping women and girls, the sources added.

They said that community leader Mohamedein Bektum was killed in his home in the Faroug neighbourhood in Kutum on Wednesday. “Elements of the RSF entered the omda’s residence, demanding he hand over his car key. When he refused, they shot him dead,” one of the sources reported.

They also reported that since the attacks on Kutum started six days ago, corpses have been littering the streets. “Nobody dares to collect and bury them out of fear of being shot themselves.”

A resident, who accompanied a number of wounded people to El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, said that “we had to navigate through dangerous routes to reach El Fasher”.

A large number of injured people however are still waiting to be taken to a hospital.