Sudanese official urges international probe into violence against residents in Darfur


Cairo (AP) — The governor of Darfur on Tuesday called for an international investigation into violence against residents of the region that witnessed some of the worst battles in Sudan’s ongoing conflict.

Mini Arko Minawi urged the U.N. Security Council to allow the International Criminal Court to probe “crimes and assassinations” that took place in the western region over the past two months.

Sudan descended into chaos after fighting erupted in mid-April between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.

The conflict, which capped months of tensions between rival generals, killed more than 3,000 people and wounded over 6,000 others, according to Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim. It forced more than 2.2 million people to flee their homes to safer areas inside Sudan and to neighboring nations.

The fighting has centered in the capital, Khartoum, but spread elsewhere in the African country, including Darfur. The violence in Darfur has recently taken an ethnic dimension, according to U.N. officials.

The U.N. envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, warned earlier this month that attacks by the RSF and allied Arab militias could amount to crimes against humanity.

Minawi said “excessive force” has been used against residents in many areas in the region, including Genena, the capital city of West Darfur province.

“What is happening in Darfur now is no less than what had happened in 2003,” he said in a video posted Monday on his social media accounts, referencing the genocidal war in the early 2000s.

He spoke of residents killed, women raped and the looting and burning of properties, and “assassinations” of the region’s political and community leaders, including the governor of West Darfur.

Darfur suffered a genocidal war when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum of discrimination.

Former dictator Omar al-Bashir’s government was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes, known as Janjaweed, who targeted civilians. The Janjaweed, who later evolved into the RSF, were accused of widespread killings, rapes and other atrocities in Darfur over the past two decades.

In the current conflict, the RSF and allied Arab militias have repeatedly attacked the city, especially areas inhabited by the non-Arab Masalit community, according to residents and activists. Many towns, villages and displacement camps were looted and burned down.

Activists also reported that dozens of women were raped inside their homes and while trying to flee the fighting in Darfur. Almost all rape cases were blamed on the RSF, which didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

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