Sudan’s military leader accuses rival of committing war crimes

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan makes the accusation as fighting rages in Sudan, particularly in Khartoum and Darfur.

In a rare televised speech, the head of Sudan’s military has accused a rival paramilitary force of committing war crimes as both sides appear no closer to finding a resolution.

Sudan was plunged into conflict in April when months of simmering tensions between the military, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary, commanded by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in Khartoum and elsewhere.

In a speech broadcast on Sudan TV on Monday, al-Burhan accused the RSF and Hemedti of committing violations under the falsehood of promising to restore democracy.

“How can you bring about democracy by committing war crimes?” he said in a speech celebrating Sudan’s annual armed forces day.

This month, the human rights organisation Amnesty International accused both sides of committing extensive war crimes, including deliberate killings of civilians and mass sexual assault. In its 56-page report, the group said almost all rape cases were blamed on the RSF and its allied Arab militias.

In the western region of Darfur, which had its own devastating war in the early 2000s, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence with the RSF and its militia allies targeting African communities, United Nations officials said.

Last week, the violence intensified in South Darfur province, and dozens of people were killed. The Darfur Bar Association, a Sudanese legal group focusing on human rights in Darfur, said at least five civilians died on Friday in the crossfire during intense fighting between the military and the RSF in Nyala, South Darfur’s capital.

About 50km (30 miles) west of Nyala, Arab tribesmen riding RSF vehicles raided the Kubum area of South Darfur last week, burning down the local market and sacking a police station, the legal group said in a separate statement. At least 24 people were killed in that attack, it said.

Last month, Karim Khan, a prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, told the UN that he would be investigating alleged new war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

The nearly four-month conflict has also reduced the capital, Khartoum, to an urban battlefield. Across the city, RSF forces have commandeered homes and turned them into operational bases, residents and doctors groups said. The army in turn has struck residential areas from the air and with artillery fire. More than 2.15 million people have since fled Khartoum state, according to UN data.

Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim said in June that the conflict has killed upwards of 3,000 people but there has been no update since. The true tally is likely far higher, local doctors and activists said.

Meanwhile, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, confirmed to The Associated Press news agency that it had suspended the RSF’s account and the account belonging to Hemedti. Meta said the group had violated its dangerous organizations and individuals policy, but it did not provide any details.

On its website, Meta said the policy aims to clamp down on “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence”.

In a statement on Monday, the RSF said the closure of the accounts infringes on people’s rights to impartial information.

“The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are allowed to disseminate graphic violence on their page while the RSF’s call for democracy and freedom is silenced,” the paramilitary said.

As of Monday, the paramilitary and Hemedti still had active accounts on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.

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