150 members of the Central Reserve Forces (locally known as Abu Tira) who were attacked by militia troops led by Musa Hilal in the area of Tirma on Friday afternoon, arrived in Kutum on Saturday evening, along with 26 bodies. Hilal’s gunmen have warned the population in the area to stay away from the roads between Kutum, Saraf Omra, Kabkabiya, and El Fasher, as these roads are part of their “area of operations”.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, multiple sources from Kutum reported that 150 Abu Tira troops, in their underwear and barefooted, arrived to Kutum on Saturday evening. They had taken 26 bodies of colleagues with them, of a total of 34 killed of their convoy. The bodies were buried in on Saturday night. The authorities hosted the “very exhausted” Abu Tira troops in the Central Reserve Forces compound near the office of Kutum locality.
The sources added that on Friday the traffic between Kabkabiya, Kutum, and El Fasher was halted.
Residents of Tirma, who witnessed the attacks of the Musa Hilal militia on the Central Reserve Forces in the area, confirmed to Radio Dabanga on Sunday afternoon that “there are still dozens of bodies still lying on the ground”. They said that they had assisted 70 to 80 wounded Abu Tira troops.
According to the sources in Tirma, the Abu Tira convoy attacked by the Musa Hilal militias, consisted of about 375 troops in 11 vehicles. “Among these vehicles there were two large lorries, one ZY, and one Renault lorry. The militiamen of Musa Hilal captured seven vehicles. Three vehicles burned down.”
The sources said that the warriors of Musa Hilal have warned the population in the area from approaching the roads between Kutum, Saraf Omra, Kabkabiya, and El Fasher, as these roads are part of their “area of operations”.
Musa Hilal comes from a family of leaders of the Arab Mahameed clan in North Darfur. In 2003, when the armed conflict in Darfur erupted, he was serving a jail sentence in a prison in Port Sudan for stirring up ethnic conflicts resulting in the massacre of innocent civilians. However, Vice-President Ali Osman Taha released Hilal and brought him back to mobilise Janjaweed to help the government fight the Darfuri rebels. With the full backing of the government, Hilal’s Janjaweed targeted unarmed villagers, and burned down villages of “African Darfuris”, but rarely came near forces of the armed rebel movements.
Hilal is subject to travel and financial sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council in 2006.
Early 2008, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir offered the militia leader a post as a Presidential Assistant for Federal Affairs. Mid 2013 he returned to North Darfur. Sources say that Hilal now covets the position of governor of North Darfur State.
File photo: President Al Bashir (L) at the wedding celebration of Chadian President Idris Deby with a daughter of Musa Hilal (2ndL) (alarabiya.net)
Abu Tira, police forces on the run killed in North Darfur (28 February 2014)
Abu Tira troops ambushed in North Darfur (27 February 2014)