A regional governor was murdered after publicly blaming Sudan's paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for the deaths of civilians during the expansion of the country's nearly two-month-old civil war into western cities.
Khamis Abakar, the governor of West Darfur, was slain on Wednesday, according to an armed group he commanded, just hours after he accused the RSF and allied fighters of "genocide."
Two government sources told Reuters that the RSF was responsible for the assassination, although Reuters could not provide additional information.
The Sudanese army also used social media to accuse the RSF of "kidnapping and assassinating" the governor. The killing added a "new chapter" to the RSF's "record of barbaric crimes" against the entire Sudanese population, the army stated on Facebook, labeling the incident a "brutal act."
The RSF did not respond to a request for comment immediately.
The governor of the Darfur region, Mini Arko Minawi, stated that the provincial governor of West Darfur was kidnapped and murdered just hours after giving an interview to a television station.
Abakar had informed Al Hadath TV earlier on Wednesday that the killing of civilians necessitated international intervention.
"Civilians are being killed randomly and in large numbers," he had previously stated.
According to video footage circulating on social media late Wednesday, Abakar was reportedly detained by armed men, some of whom wore RSF uniforms. Other videos allegedly showed the governor with facial and neck injuries on the ground.
Wednesday, the United Nations reported that the conflict in Sudan had displaced more than two million people and that escalating attacks in Darfur may constitute "crimes against humanity."
According to local activists and UN officials, several people have been killed and injured in el-Geneina, the provincial capital of West Darfur, by RSF and allied fighters over the past week. Residents and activists in el-Geneina reported that dozens of women were sexually assaulted in their homes and while fleeing the violence. Nearly every rape case was attributed to the RSF, which has ignored repeated requests for comment.
ON TUESDAY, the UN envoy in Sudan, Volker Perthes, stated that as Darfur's situation deteriorated, he was alarmed by the "ethnic dimension" of the situation in el-Geneina.
"There is an emerging pattern of large-scale attacks against civilians based on their ethnic identities, allegedly perpetrated by Arab militias and some armed men wearing Rapid Support Force uniforms," Perthes said.
These allegations, if confirmed, would constitute crimes against humanity, he stated.
The UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, condemned "the shocking violence" in el-Geneina.
In a statement released Tuesday, she warned that such conflict could lead to "renewal of campaigns of rape, murder, and ethnic cleansing amounting to atrocities."
In the early 2000s, ethnic African rebels accused the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum of discrimination and sparked a genocide in Darfur. The administration of former President Omar al-Bashir was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab fighters known as the "Janjaweed" who attacked civilians. Millions of people were displaced, and an estimated 300,000 were killed due to attacks ascribed to "Janjaweed" fighters, who evolved into the RSF and became a legalized government force in 2017.
In a statement, the RSF described the battle in el-Geneina as a tribal conflict and blamed the country's former regime for fanning the flames. It stated that endeavors had been made to bring aid into the city.