February 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The commander of the rapid support forces which were stationed in North Kordofan state, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has described his forces as “national” and “neutral”, saying they played important role in maintaining security and stability in Darfur.
- Soldiers in a miltary unit calling themselves variously the Border Intelligence Division, Second Reconnaisance Brigade or the Quick and the Horrible, also believed to form part of the Janjaweed militia, walk through a weekly animal market in Mistiria in North Darfur, Sudan (AP)
He addressed a public crowd celebrating his forces’ arrival in the East Darfur state capital, El Daein, saying that rumours circulated by certain parties about his forces were unfair and meant to distort its image.
The commander of the 20th infantry division in El Daein, Yahiya Al-Sheikh, for his part said the arrival of the rapid support forces, also known as Janjaweed Arab militias, would enhance efforts made towards maintaining security and stability, adding they offered a rare example for sacrifice and tenacity.
Residents of North Kordofan state capital of El-Obeid said the presence of the rapid support forces have spread terror among citizens and asserted that authorities were unable to curb them.
Earlier this month, the rapid support forces were accused of looting commercial markets and killing of a merchant in El-Obeid leading to massive protests across the city.
The governor of North Kordofan state, Ahmed Haroun, announced at the time that his government made the necessary arrangements to drive the Janjaweed militias from the state within 72 hours.
The rapid support forces were originally mobilised by the Sudanese government to quell the insurgency that broke out in Sudan’s western region of Darfur in 2003.
That counter-insurgency campaign, which mainly targeted African ethnic groups on account of their affiliation to the insurgents, has led to the death of approximately 300,000 people and the displacement of more than 2.7 million, according to United Nation figures.
Haroun himself is one of the Sudanese officials wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes he allegedly masterminded in Darfur during his time as state minister for interior.