North Darfur’s Kutum has fallen into RSF hands

Aerial view of Kutum in North Darfur (File Photo: Hamid Abdulsalam / UNAMID)

KUTUM – June 6, 2023

Kutum in North Darfur has fallen under the control of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Dozens died and people fear more fighting in the town.

RSF paramilitaries invaded Kutum on Saturday and communication was cut off, journalist and political analyst Abdelrahman El Ajab told Radio Dabanga yesterday.

El Ajab explained that dozens died in the clashes and described the situation in Kutum as “tragic”. The town and especially the market was subjected to acts of looting.

He warned that ‘the town might slide into a civil war’.

The Darfur Bar Association reported on Sunday that at least 40 people were killed in Kutum and neighbouring Kassab camp over the weekend.

More deaths occurred in subsequent clashes.

On Sunday evening, the RSF attacked the area of Kafout between El Fasher and Kutum. Paramilitaries posted a video on social media confirming their control of the main base of the 22nd Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Brigade.

The reason for the invasion is reportedly the killing of a Border Guards officer in Kutum by a local gang. The guard was a relative of Musa Hilal, former janjaweed leader and head of the Revolutionary Awakening Council (RAC).

Hilal and his janjaweed are largely held responsible for atrocities in Darfur since the war broke out in early 2002 , including genocide and genocidal rape. Hilal belongs to the same tribe as RSF Commander Mohamed ‘Hemedti’ Dagalo, whose RSF grew out of the janjaweed.

Taha Osman, member of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), condemned the events in Kutum and rejected “any violation against any Sudanese citizen”, whether committed by the SAF or RSF.

He warned of the presence of janjaweed forces “used by elements of the former regime” to commit crimes against civilians and feared that the situation in Darfur would return to 2003 [start of the Darfur civil war].

Osman said that the events in Kutum “are the result of a political crisis that is not based in Kutum, nor is its solution based in Kutum”.

“Those killed and murdered in Kutum are victims of the exploitation of an agenda to which they are not a party, as they are victims of the complete lack of development and equality.”

‘Those killed and murdered in Kutum are victims of the exploitation of an agenda to which they are not a party’

Taha Osman

The FFC shares El Ajab’s fear that the conflict could turn into a civil war that is difficult to control.

The organisation called for a comprehensive and sustainable ceasefire.

Other Darfur states

El Ajab also told Radio Dabanga that El Geneina in West Darfur is besieged from four directions by large groups of gunmen. Communication with El Geneina and with Zalingei in Central Darfur remains impossible.

Three banks were looted in Nyala, South Darfur, which is generally witnessing a calm tinged with caution according to the journalist.

The National Umma Party (NUP) expressed its concern over the spread of the war from Khartoum to Darfur and North Kordofan.

The party praised the USA-Saudi Arabia-led mediation efforts in Jeddah and called for a resumption of negotiations.