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Civilian deaths and abductions as RSF take control of Kass, South Darfur


KASS – July 18, 2023


The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have taken control of Kass, a town in South Darfur, 80 kilometres west of the state’s capital Nyala, where the army’s 61st Infantry Brigade was stationed. Several civilians were killed in clashes in Kass over the weekend and three people were abducted.

On Sunday, the RSF announced their full control of the command of the 61st Infantry Brigade in Kass. Local sources told Radio Dabanga that at least three civilians were killed in an RSF attack over the weekend. Many people fled their homes.

One of the displaced people near Kass, who preferred to be anonymous for security reasons, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that Kass and the seven nearby camps for the displaced witnessed a relative calm yesterday but confirmed that the RSF have taken control of the town and that there have been clashes between RSF soldiers and gunmen since.

Two displaced men were killed, nine others were injured, and three people, including two women, were abducted during the attack by the RSF, according to the displaced person.

Many displaced people fled their homes in the camps and sought shelter in the town over the past few days due to the fierce fighting between the army and the RSF, but some returned to the camps on Monday.

The displaced person told Radio Dabanga that four neighbourhoods in the town and most of the camps were entirely destroyed on Sunday. They also said that parts of the camps were plundered.

Gunmen on motorcycles plundered the town market, most of the shops, and many houses on Sunday and yesterday. They also raided three health facilities and the offices of a Swiss organisation. Some offices were plundered too.

The Sudanese Women’s Alliance reported that all roads to Kass remained closed. The situation in Kass is dangerous because large groups of gunmen supporting the RSF, popularly known as kasaba (profiteers), roam in and around the town.

The women’s group expressed concern for the situation of the people living in the area, especially women and children, and warned of “major violations” against women that have occurred since the beginning of the war.

Native administration leaders have tried to meet with the commander of the attacking force to secure the neighbourhoods and markets.

RSF statement

After the town’s garrison was taken by the RSF, it announced its control and said that it had seized 13 combat vehicles with full equipment and 70 cannons of various types, and took control of weapon depots.

The militia also captured the commander of the 61st Brigade and 30 other members of the force of varying ranks.

Sources reported that the RSF took part in plundering markets, shops, and houses.

In Central Darfur, the RSF renewed its offensive on the command of the 21st Infantry Division in the capital Zalingei on Saturday. The fighting continued until late in the evening.

Condemnation

The Darfur Bar Association (DBA) condemned the violence in Kass on Saturday and Sunday.

In a statement yesterday, the Darfur lawyers said that the RSF’s seizure of army garrisons in Darfur and the displacement of the people living in the vicinity “will lead to the prevalence of a culture of violence and societal fragmentation”.

The lawyers condemned the grave human rights violations committed by the RSF against the residents of Kass. They demanded “an immediate stop to this absurd war by any means, before total chaos strikes over the entire country”.

Last week, when the RSF was already clashing with the army around KASS, the DBA warned that the RSF are seeking to seize all towns and army garrisons in Darfur, “which will lead to a comprehensive collapse of the state apparatus”.



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