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Relatives free farmers kidnapped in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains

April 14 - 2020 DALAMI
Farmers in West Kordofan (Sudanow)
Farmers in West Kordofan (Sudanow)

On March 31, a group of armed men wearing uniforms of the Popular Defence Forces (PDF) kidnapped four farmers in Dalami in South Kordofan, and robbed them of their money and mobile phones.

Relatives of the abductees managed release them. The case was reported but no investigations were conducted, the Kampala-based Sudanese Human Rights and Democracy Organisation (HUDO) reported in a press statement on Monday.

El Sadig Ishag (47), Esam Mahmoud (35), Hasan Jabir (30), and Gasim Badri (28) were returning from their farms in Habila on a tractor to their homes in Dalami on March 31, when ten gunmen in PDF uniforms riding on motorcycles intercepted them.

The gunmen took them by force to the El Mughafal forest, about 65 km north of Dalami, where they robbed them of their money (approximately SDG 2,500) and six smart phones. They then called the owner of the tractor, and asked for a ransom.

The next day morning, relatives of the abductees managed to trace the kidnappers and their captives in the forest. When they approached the group, the gunmen fled, leaving their victims and the tractor behind.

The case was reported to the police in Dalami and in Habila police, but no action was taken.

HUDO expressed its concerns about the situation of civilians in conflict areas and calls upon the Sudanese government at state and central level to urgently address the insecurity in South Kordofan, to ensure that the police carry out their duties responsibly, to ensure the safety of people in conflict areas, and to disarm the PDF militiamen and dissolve the militia.

In end February, residents of the eastern part of the Nuba Mountains called on the state government to disarm the PDF militiamen deployed in the region.

The commercial and agricultural activities in the region are threatened by the proliferation of weapons, and the frequent occurrence of killings and robberies on the roads, they said.

In November last year, HUDO reported that elements of the Popular Defence Forces militia were wreaking havoc in Habila in South Kordofan while police and army troops remained silent.

A month later, a farmer was shot dead in Rashad because he refused to hand his harvest to the militiamen. In February, three masked men wearing PDF uniforms killed a motorcyclist in the same area.

Government militia

The Popular Defence Forces was established as an Islamist militia after Omar Al Bashir’s military coup in 1989.

The militia also operated as a reserve force for the Sudan Armed Forces. Its members were mainly mobilised from Darfur, to fight against rebels in present South Sudan. The PDF is still operational in Darfur and, mainly, in South Kordofan. It also plays a major role in the distribution of weapons and offering military training to tribal militias.

Under international law, the PDF is considered part of Sudan's military because it was created by statute. However, the militia was defined by the regime of Al Bashir as a semi-military force of Sudanese citizens. Its members receive training, uniforms, guns, ammunition, and food, but no salaries.


USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of posting. As effective foreign exchange rates can vary in Sudan, Radio Dabanga bases all SDG currency conversions on the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).

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