Rapid Support Forces unit storms Abu Gouta in Sudan’s El Gezira

A Rapid Support Forces (RSF) unit stormed Abu Gouta in northwest El Gezira yesterday morning. The paramilitaries plundered the Sudanese Agricultural Bank, took control of the town’s police station, and set up posts in a number of neighbourhoods. One civilian was reportedly killed.

Abdallah El Keneen, former governor of El Gezira who hails from the area, told Radio Dabanga yesterday that a RSF unit aboard 29 four-wheel drive combat vehicles stormed Abu Gouta at dawn that morning.

“They plundered the Agricultural Bank and several market shops, and assaulted police officers. I also heard that a man was killed during the raid, when he refused to hand over his car to the attackers,” he said.

“A RSF force in three combat vehicles was stationed near the Abu Gouta police station, and two combat vehicles were stationed near the club. Six vehicles went to the Fellata neighbourhood, while three vehicles were stationed in the Jaaliyeen neighbourhood,” he reported. “Some people told me that the residents of the eastern part of the town were ordered to leave their homes.”

El Keneen further said that he received “conflicting information” about what happened afterwards. “Some say that a group of RSF troops left Abu Gouta again, in the western direction. They said they were followed by a group of men on motorcycles.”

The Abu Gouta Resistance Committees condemned the RSF invasion in a post on its Facebook page yesterday. The raid “caused fear and panic among the people in the town, especially those who fled the hell of war in Khartoum or other conflict zones”.

Emergency Lawyers reported in a statement yesterday that the RSF invaded the entire administrative unit of Abu Gouta. Three policemen were wounded. “There were no army troops present nor any other manifestation of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)”.

The statement strongly denounced the “RSF’s expansion of the scope of military operations and invade safe areas where thousands of civilians sought protection”.

The RSF are in control of most of Darfur, several areas in Kordofan, and a large part of Khartoum state. The eastern, northern, and central parts of the country are in control of the army – though a small RSF convoy of 17 vehicles, led by Abu Agla Keikel*, entered the Butana plains in eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref, as reported by Sudan War Monitor last week.

In early October, heavy clashes broke out between the SAF and the RSF in the area of Wad Ashana in Um Rawaba, North Kordofan. “With the capture of the Wad Ashana garrison, the RSF has effectively cleared the path for an advance towards Kosti in White Nile state,” the militia stated at the time.

White Nile state, located south of El Gezira, is hosting the largest number of displaced and refugees in the country. The region has not witnessed any military operations so far.

* Abu Agla Keikel, a former army officer from eastern Sudan, set up the Sudan Shield Forces (SSF) in El Butana in El Gedaref in the end of 2022. Early this year, the new militia was allowed by the authorities under the military junta to hold rallies in eastern and central Sudan, including Khartoum. A military expert accused the defunct Al Bashir regime of being behind the formation of the SSF and other new militias. In August however, Keikel changed sides and joined the [better paying] RSF.

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