The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) took control of the Um Keddada army garrison yesterday morning, after the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) had withdrawn its troops from the site. Mass atrocities are reported from Ardamata in West Darfur. Army soldiers in more than 30 vehicles reportedly withdrew to eastern Chad.
Hundreds of people fled the heavy shooting in the large oasis the town was built on. The RSF soldiers plundered the Um Keddada market and houses, and stole private vehicles during the attack.
Sources reported from the town that the RSF stationed troops inside the neighbourhoods after taking control of the military garrison.
Um Keddada lies about 200 kilometres east of El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, which was prone to several RSF attacks last week.
The RSF are tightening their grip on Darfur, reportedly to expand their territorial control and thereby enhancing their negotiation leverage in the Jeddah talks. Last week, Lt Gen Abdelrahim Dagalo, RSF deputy commander and brother of RSF Commander ‘Hemedti, announced “more operations in all Darfur states”. RSF front units had moved towards El Geneina in West Darfur, and El Daein, the capital of East Darfur where no fighting has been reported since the war started.
On October 26, they seized control of the South Darfur capital of Nyala. Five days later, Zalingei, capital of Central Darfur, was taken. On Saturday, they captured the third capital, El Geneina in West Darfur, and began attacking El Fasher.
No RSF presence has been reported yet from Ed Daein, capital of East Darfur, but on Sunday, the paramilitaries attacked two oilfields in the state. The army has withdrawn from several garrisons in Darfur and West Kordofan, allegedly to regroup.
The situation in El Geneina, and in particular Ardamata that used to be a camp for the displaced but over the years has become a suburb of the West Darfur capital, is “extremely dangerous”, a man who fled the neighbourhood to eastern Chad told Radio Dabanga.
He spoke about “many atrocities” committed by the RSF after they took control of the 15th SAF Division in El Geneina on Saturday. The RSF troops “raided and plundered all the houses in Ardamata. They separated the women from the men, and killed most of the men, especially the youth.”
The refugee, who preferred to be anonymous for security reasons, said that eight members of his family had been killed, and more than 20 relatives were missing. A large number of people in Ardamata were detained and taken to unknown destinations.
“The initial death toll in Ardamata reached more than two hundred people,” the source said. “More than 20,000 people arrived here in Adré with only the clothes they are wearing. Some of them even walked barefoot.”
As happened during previous attacks on El Geneina in May and June and the area of Sirba, north of El Geneina, in July, “RSF soldiers ambushed those fleeing to Chad and killed large numbers of them”.
The West Darfur Rebels Bloc said in a statement yesterday that about 2,000 people were killed, and about 3,000 others were wounded.
Toby Harward, UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan (Darfur), deputy UN said in posts on X yesterday that “Sickening reports & images coming from Ardamata, W Darfur, inc of assassinations, grave violations & massacres of civilians, following RSF takeover of area. Those with authority must uphold international humanitarian law, protect civilians, ensure rule of law, & provide unfettered humanitarian access to vulnerable persons.
“It is shameful that the atrocities committed 20 years ago in Darfur can be happening again today with such little attention.”
The ‘anonymous refugee’ said that the excessive violence against the inhabitants of Ardama “was a revenge attack because many members of the 15th SAF Division come from the area”.
He stressed however that “there is no discrimination among the residents of the area on ethnic grounds”.
Yesterday, Radio Dabanga reported the killing of a prominent Masalit leader and nine of his relatives in the neighbourhood on Saturday.
According to the source, “Farsha Mohamed Arbab was murdered because he regularly spoke out against the RSF”.
The source further reported “the movement of army units” from Ardamata and from Kulbus in northern West Darfur to Chad.
“Eight military vehicles loaded with soldiers and military equipment arrived in the Chadian town of Adré, while 25 other army vehicles crossed the border in Kulbus,” he said. “The soldiers handed over their weapons and war equipment to the Chadian authorities.”
The combatants of rebel movements fighting alongside the SAF were not notified of the withdrawal of the army troops and described their fate as unknown.
The source explained that the army soldiers had earlier withdrawn from El Geneina to Kulbus, “from where they fled to Chad after native administration leaders threatened the commanders of the Kulbus garrison to attack the site if they would not leave the garrison”.