Fighters affiliated with a paramilitary force, along with allied Arab militias, unleashed a devastating assault on a town in the conflict-ridden Darfur region of Sudan. According to reports from doctors and the U.N., the attack on Ardamata in West Darfur province resulted in the tragic deaths of over 800 people.
This incident in Ardamata is the most recent in a series of horrifying events in Darfur, which have characterized the months-long conflict between the Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Sudan descended into turmoil in mid-April when long-standing tensions between military leader Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces commander, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, erupted into open conflict.
This war began 18 months after both generals had orchestrated a military coup, effectively dismantling a transitional government. The military takeover brought an end to Sudan’s brief and delicate experiment with democracy, which had begun following a popular uprising that ousted the longtime authoritarian leader, Omar al-Bashir, in April 2019.
Over the past few weeks, the RSF has made significant territorial gains in Darfur, assuming control of complete cities and towns throughout the vast region. These developments have occurred despite both opposing parties returning to the negotiation table in Saudi Arabia at the end of last month. The initial round of talks, facilitated by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, did not result in the establishment of a cease-fire.
The extended assault on Ardamata followed the RSF’s seizure of a military base in the town after a brief skirmish with the troops on November 4, as reported by Salah Tour, the head of the Sudanese Doctor’s Union in West Darfur. Tour mentioned that the military had withdrawn from the base, and approximately two dozen wounded soldiers sought refuge in Chad.
Despite attempts to contact spokespeople for both the military and the RSF via phone, there was no response or comment provided.
Following their capture of the military base, the RSF, along with allied Arab militias, launched a violent rampage through the town. They attacked non-Arab residents in their homes and set fire to shelters that housed displaced individuals, according to Tour.
He described the events, stating, “They violently attacked the town. They went from house to house, killing and detaining people.”
Fighters from a paramilitary force and their allied Arab militias rampaged through a town in Sudan's war-ravaged region of Darfur, reportedly killing more than 800 people in a multiday attack, doctors and the U.N. said. https://t.co/PXgNx4tKGn
— CBS News (@CBSNews) November 11, 2023
The UN Refugee Agency reported that over 800 individuals have been killed, with 8,000 others having sought refuge in neighboring Chad. Nonetheless, the agency acknowledged that the actual number of people who fled is likely higher than reported, given the difficulties in registering new arrivals in Chad.
The agency also disclosed that approximately 100 shelters in the town had been completely destroyed, and significant looting had occurred, including the theft of humanitarian aid belonging to the agency.