Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) besieged a camp for displaced people on November 2 after attacking a nearby army base in West Darfur. Over the next three days, the paramilitary group committed what may amount to the single largest mass killing since the civil war erupted in April.
Local monitors told Al Jazeera that about 1,300 people were killed, 2,000 injured and 310 remain missing.
“They went house to house to search for men and killed each one they found,” said Montesser Saddam*, who barely escaped the killing and arrived in Chad on Sunday. “There were so many corpses in the streets.”
The latest atrocities are part of a wider campaign by the RSF and its allied militias to eradicate the non-Arab Masalit tribe from West Darfur, according to activists and survivors.
Since the start of Sudan’s civil war, the United Nations and Western governments have condemned the systematic killing and displacement of the Masalit from their land. But the criticism and concern have not deterred the RSF from carrying out more atrocities.
A history of ethnic cleansing
For decades, Sudan’s central government neglected non-Arab farmers and Arab pastoralists in Darfur, pushing them to compete for fertile land and dwindling water resources.
Former President Omar al-Bashir exacerbated these tensions by pitting tribes against each other as part of a divide-and-rule strategy. In 2003, he armed Arab tribal militias and tasked them with crushing a mostly non-Arab rebellion, which started with protests against Darfur’s economic and political marginalisation.
About 300,000 people died in combat as well as from famine and disease brought on by the conflict. Rights groups and the UN accused these government-backed militias – known to victims as the janjaweed, or “devils on horseback” – of carrying out ethnic cleansing.
These same militias are now fighting alongside or under the banner of the RSF.
“They want to ethnically cleanse us,” said Nahid Hamid, a Masalit human rights lawyer who spoke to Al Jazeera from Cairo, Egypt where she now lives.
Source: Al Jazeera English