CAIRO (AP) — In a rare televised speech Monday, the head of Sudan’s military accused the rival paramilitary force of committing war crimes in the northeast African country’s brutal ongoing conflict.
Sudan was plunged into chaos in April when months of simmering tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in Khartoum and elsewhere. Since then, both sides have accused the other of harming civilians and violating short-term ceasefires.
In a speech broadcast on Sudan TV, Burhan accused the RSF and Dagalo 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.
Earlier this month, rights organization 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 Darfur, the scene of genocidal war in the early 2000s, the conflict has involved ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias targeting African communities in the western region, U.N. officials say.
Last week the violence intensified in South Darfur province, killing dozens. The Darfur Bar Association, a Sudanese legal group focusing on human rights in the western Darfur region, said at least five civilians died in crossfire during intense clashes between the military and the RSF in Nyala, South Darfur’s capital, on Friday.
Some 50 kilometers (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 the attack, it said.
Last month, Karim Khan, a prosecutor from the International Criminal Court, told the United Nations 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 say. The army, in turn, has struck residential areas from the air and with artillery fire. Over 2.15 million people have since fled Khartoum state, according to U.N. data.
The country’s health minister, Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim, said in June that the conflict has killed upward of 3,000 people but there has been no update since. The true tally is likely far higher, say local doctors and activists.
Meanwhile, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, confirmed to The Associated Press that it had suspended the RSF’s account and the account belonging to Dagalo. Meta told the AP in an email that the group had violated its Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy but did not provide any further details.
On its website, Meta says the policy aims to clamp down on “organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence.”
In a statement sent to the AP on Monday, the RSF said the closure of the accounts infringes on peoples right to impartial information. The paramilitary has also previously denied committing crimes against civilians.
‘’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 Dagalo still had active accounts on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.