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15 Jun, 2023 12:54

West Darfur governor killed in Sudan fighting

Khamis Abdullah Abkar was abducted and assassinated hours after publicly accusing Khartoum’s paramilitary forces of genocide, officials say
West Darfur governor killed in Sudan fighting

The governor of Sudan’s West Darfur region, Khamis Abdullah Abkar, was killed on Wednesday as the fighting that erupted in mid-April has spread across the conflict-ridden country to the western cities.

Abkar was allegedly assassinated just hours after publicly accusing the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied militia of genocide against the Masalit tribe.

According to Al-Hadath TV, where he made his final comments before his death on Wednesday, the governor warned that the killings in West Darfur were indiscriminate and called for international intervention.

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) said in a statement on Thursday that the governor had been kidnapped and killed by the RSF.

The head of the Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah, denounced the treacherous attack carried out by the Rapid Support Forces, in which they targeted the governor of West Darfur, Khamis Abdullah Abkar, and killed him in the city of El Geneina,” the SAF stated.

In response, the RSF, while denying the allegations, accused the army of “igniting the tribal war” in West Darfur and “fueling the fighting by arming the tribes.”

Our forces have completely distanced themselves from interfering in the conflict in West Darfur and have continued to follow developments of events and warn against them,” it said in a lengthy statement on Thursday.

The RSF condemned Abkar’s killing in the “strongest terms” and demanded an independent investigation into the events that led to his and hundreds of other people’s deaths.

Volker Perthes, the UN secretary-general’s special representative in Sudan, said on Tuesday that he was “alarmed” by the deterioration of the situation in West Darfur’s capital, El Geneina, as violence in the country has taken on a “ethnic dimension.”

The Darfur Bar Association, which monitors the conflict in the region, said on Wednesday that artillery strikes hit civilian homes in the South Darfur capital of Nyala, after earlier reporting that 17 people had been killed by shelling on Monday and 100 had died in the previous five days.

Meanwhile, the UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, reported on Thursday that violent clashes in and around displaced persons’ camps in North Darfur had killed over 100 people.

Darfur, home to some 80 tribes and ethnic groups, has witnessed its worst conflict since 2003, when 300,000 people were killed and 2 million were displaced, according to research published by the Ohio State University. That spate of hostilities came when Arab militias were deployed to fight non-Arab rebels.