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Militiamen wreak havoc in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains

November 26 - 2019 HABILA
Farming in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan (
Farming in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan (

Members of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) militia are attacking people in Habila in South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains while police and army troops remain silent, the Sudanese human rights watchdog HUDO reported today.

In the early morning of November 17, three members of the PDF raided the farm of Bashir El Zein, 9 km southeast of Habila.

As they assaulted the farm’s guard, they were confronted by a group of army soldiers who happened to be passing by. The ensuing fight resulted in the injury of the three attackers.

In response, relatives of the wounded men gathered in the area, threatening the residents with their presence.

In the evening, a group of 45 armed men wearing PDF uniforms torched the homes of El Zein, his brother, and his sister, HUDO said in a statement today.

The same militiamen plundered the shop of Abdelrahman Joumey at the market of Habila town during the day. They robbed him at gunpoint of his money and goods, and left.

Journey filed a complaint at the police of Habila. Yet, though he knew the attackers and mentioned their names, but no action or investigation was done.

Farmer shot as harvest plundered

In a second statement, HUDO reported that a group of 11 PDF militiamen riding camels stormed the farm of Mohamed Ishag near Habila on Friday.

The farmer was harvesting sesame, and the attackers told him to hand them the yields. When he refused, they insulted him by calling him a slave, and shot him in his leg. They then loaded seven sacks of sesame seeds on their camels, set the remaining 14 sacks on fire, and left.

After some hours, relatives of Ishag arrived with a horse cart to load the harvest. Instead they took Ishag to Habila Hospital.

The incident was reported to the Habila police station but again, no investigation was done.

HUDO expressed its serious concern “about the situation of civilians in conflict areas” and called upon the Sudanese government to investigate the incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice. The victims are to be compensated. The human rights organisation further urged the government to dissolve the PDF militia.

Arab herders

The PDF is a government militia, established in late 1989 by the new Islamist regime that came into power by a military coup on June 30 that year. The force is defined by the 1989 Popular Defence Forces Act as a semi-military force to be formed from Sudanese citizens. The PDF in the Nuba Mountains are mostly composed of Arab herders’ tribes that are known to look down on African Nuba farmers.

Habila locality is known for its agricultural schemes. The farmers in the area hold the view that nomadic routes should be clearly defined and that grazing areas should be distanced from agricultural areas.

Earlier this month, fighting erupted in Habila between farmers and herders, claiming the lives of eight people. About 30 were wounded, some of them seriously.

Darfur, in particular in the northern part of the region, is witnessing similar tensions between farmers and herdsmen, and attacks on farms by militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces. Last week, the Darfur Network for Monitoring and Documentation urged the Sudanese government to intervene and stop violence against farmers and villagers in Darfur.


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