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Popular Defence Forces integrated into Sudan army

Militiamen of the Popular Defence Forces (file photo)
Militiamen of the Popular Defence Forces (file photo)

As part of changes within the army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) announced that the Popular Defence Forces government militia will now be called the Reserve Department.

SAF Chief-of-Staff Lt Gen Mohamed El Hussein posted on the SAF Facebook page that the militia’s name was changed and that its command has been changed as well. The Reserve Department will be part of the Ministry of Defence. It will have its headquarters in Khartoum.

The Popular Defence Forces (PDF) were established as an Islamist militia after Omar Al Bashir’s military coup in 1989. Under international law it was considered part of Sudan's military because it was created by statute.

The Al Bashir regime, however, defined the militia as a semi-military force of Sudanese citizens. PDF members received training, uniforms, weapons, and food, but no salaries. It played a major role in the distribution of weapons to, and military training for, tribal militias.

The PDF also operated as a reserve force for the Sudan Armed Forces. The members were mainly mobilised from Darfur and Kordofan, to fight against the armed movements in the country.

After the fall of Al Bashir in April last year, the militia continued to be operational, in particular in South Kordofan, assaulting and robbing people in the region.

The Sudanese Human Rights and Development Organisation (HUDO) regularly reports about people attacked by militiamen in South Kordofan and Blue Nile state.

The most recent attack by PDF militiamen occurred on Tuesday last week, when they shot two farmers, killing one and injuring the other near Kujuriya village, some 35 kilometer west of Delling, HUDO reported in a press statement yesterday.

Ebeid Abdallah (56) and Mubarak El Tom (46) were working on their farms near Kujuriya, together with their wives and children, when a group of armed men wearing PDF uniforms surrounded them.

The militiamen asked the farmers where their cattle was. When the two farmers replied they did not know, they were shot. Abdallah was killed instantly. El Tom was taken in a critical condition to the health centre in the village.

In February, residents of the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan called on the state government to disarm the PDF deployed in the region after PDF militiamen killed and robbed several people.

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