Sudan army accuses RSF after governor of West Darfur killed

Sudan army accuses RSF after governor of West Darfur killed
Amid intensifying ethnic violence as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) besiege El Geneina in West Darfur, the region's governor has been assassinated.
2 min read
15 June, 2023
The murder of Akbar comes as ethnic violence intensifies in the West Darfur city of El Geneina {Getty]

The governor of Sudan's West Darfur state was killed on Wednesday by armed militias alleged to be part of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Khamis Abdullah Akbar is the highest-ranking Sudanese official to be killed so far since the conflict between the Sudanese army and RSF began in April. 

The news of Akbar’s kidnapping and death was confirmed by the Sudanese Alliance Forces, a Darfuri militia led by Akbar, hours after the governor had given an interview with Al Hadath TV where he accused the RSF of “genocide”.

Footage then emerged on Twitter on Wednesday allegedly showing the detention of the governor by unidentified armed men.

Akbar, who belongs to the Masalit people, was appointed governor of West Darfur in 2021, after he signed a peace deal with the Sudanese government following clashes between Arab tribes and the Masalit. 

However, as Sudan’s most recent conflict has spread to the west of the country, the RSF have laid siege to the West Darfur capital of El Geneina, with reports of the killing of at least 1,100 civilians in the city as the paramilitary force target African tribal leaders in what many fear could be the beginning of mass ethnic cleansing.

There are fears on the ground that Akbar’s murder could be a sign that the situation in West Darfur is sliding towards the type of violence witnessed in the two-decade long Darfur ethnic conflict, which led to at least 300,000 deaths and the displacement of around 2.5 million people.

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Though there has been no confirmation of details on Akbar’s death, at least two Sudanese government sources have blamed the RSF.

The Sudanese army also took to social media, accusing the RSF of “kidnapping and assassinating” the governor.  They wrote on Facebook that his murder had “added a new chapter” to the RSF’s “record of barbaric crimes that it has been committing against all the Sudanese people”.

The RSF neither confirmed or denied involvement in the governor’s death, telling Arabic media sources that “we are in a state of war and there is no safe place in West Darfur”.