As the brutal conflict between the group and the Sudanese army entered its third month, a regional governor in Sudan was assassinated after accusing the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of being responsible for the deaths of civilians. The conflict started on April 15 when
tensions between the army chief, Abdel Fattah al Burhan, and the RSF commander, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, erupted into war after months of hostilities. The killing of West Darfur state governor Khamis Abakar late on Wednesday marked a new escalation in that conflict.
Social media videos that went viral late on Wednesday appeared to show Abakar being detained by a group of armed men, some of whom were wearing RSF uniforms. Other videos allegedly depicted the governor lying on the ground with injuries to his face and neck.
He had charged the RSF and allied Arab fighters with “genocide” hours earlier. He urged the international community to act to protect people in el-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, saying that “citizens are being killed arbitrarily and in large numbers.”
He stated, “We haven’t seen the army leave its base to protect people. The RSF was charged with “kidnapping and assassinating” the governor by the Sudanese army.
The killing, which the RSF described as a “brutal act,” had added a “new chapter” to its “record of barbaric crimes that it has been committing against all the Sudanese people,” it said on Facebook.
A request for comment from the RSF did not receive a prompt response. The paramilitary organization denies any involvement in Darfur attacks against civilians, but refugees who spoke to Al Jazeera last month in settlements inside Chad claimed to have seen men fighting alongside
Arab armed groups while wearing RSF uniforms.
According to local activists and UN representatives, the RSF and its allies have been ravaging through the city of el-Geneina over the past week, killing and injuring hundreds of people.
Numerous women were allegedly sexually assaulted both inside and outside of homes while attempting to flee the fighting, according to activists and locals in el-Geneina.
The RSF, which has ignored repeated requests for comment, was held responsible for nearly all rape cases, according to the AP.
*With contributions from Al Jazeera and AP