Sudanese security service and paramilitaries enforcing the weapons collection campaign have arrested dozens of people, including omdas, in North and South Darfur.
The commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan ('Hemeti') has announced the arrest of “50 outlaws” and that his forces confiscated more than 500 motorcycles in Kutum locality and other areas in North Darfur.
Hemeti added that his forces managed to arrest another kidnapper of the Swiss voluntary worker Margaret Schenkel, and transferred him to El Fasher. This week, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) in North Darfur announced that some of the participants in the kidnapping of Schenkel have been arrested. Schenkel herself was transferred to Khartoum.
The RSF arrested three omdas (local leaders) and two residents in North Darfur for their illegal possession of various weapons, including Dushka machine guns and RPGs, sources in the area reported to Radio Dabanga. The arrested omdas, Mahmoud Sid Ahmed from Birkat Seira, Ahmed Abaker Ajina and Ahmed Khatir Ibrahim, have been transferred to El Fasher, along with Tuhami Hasan Mousa and Dahiya Abu Lahab from Korma, west of El Fasher.
Meanwhile in South Darfur, the RSF and the security service arrested seven leading members of the Fellata tribe in Tullus locality. The nazir (leader) of the Falata tribe's native administration, Yousif El Samani, told Radio Dabanga that the joint forces' commander asked the members to hand over wanted Falata tribesmen. “When they failed to retrieve and hand them over, the forces arrested the tribesmen instead.”
The three arrested Falata omdas are Mohamed Adam Ali, Yousif Omar Khatir and Ibrahim Abdallah Abakar. Two other omdas, from Sergila, are Mousa Abdeljabbar and Abu Bakr Suleiman Adam. From Jidad, the arrested omdas Mukhtar El Taher and Mohamed Abdelmajid were released later.
“We stand with the weapons collection and understand the government's actions in this campaign,” said El Samani. He told this station that he is in Nyala to speak with officials to find out the reasons for the arrests of the tribesmen.
Hemeti also informed the official Sudanese news agency Suna yesterday that the RSF were surrounding Saraf Omra. The gold-mining areas of Saraf Omra and Jebel Amer are the strongholds of former janjaweed leader Musa Hilal, who heads a clan and vast number of militias. Hilal has so far been unwilling to cooperate with the weapons collection campaign, because it would involve integrating paramilitary forces such as the Border Guards into the RSF.
Darfur faces a dangerous military standoff, with a disarmament campaign by Sudan’s government increasing the risk of armed conflict and mass violence, according to a report published by the Enough Project last week. Author of the report Dr Suliman Baldo stressed the tensions and dynamics surrounding the mandatory weapons collection campaign and how it has exacerbated a rift between the two notorious paramilitary groups active in the region, the RSF and the Border Guard forces – whose members are affiliated with Hilal.