Sudan’s infamous Janjaweed militia is reportedly stealing and assaulting locals in Libya as they fight alongside rogue General Khalifa Haftar’s troops.
Sudanese fighters in Libya are reportedly stealing and assaulting locals as they fight alongside rogue General Khalifa Haftar’s troops, forces from Libya’s unity government announced Wednesday evening.
Brigadier Abdul Hadi Dara, an army spokesperson, said on Facebook that his convoy had reported violations carried out by the Sudanese Janjaweed militia affiliated with Haftar’s forces stationed in the Sukana region, The New Arab’s Arabic language service reported.
“We have recorded more than one attack on citizens’ homes and private farms, intending to steal money and property, in addition to armed robbery at the public authorities’ headquarters, most notably the livestock and meat company,” he said.
He continued: “When the people of the region protested these actions, the gangs would respond by arresting a group of people and throwing them in prison.”
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Wednesday that foreign interference in the Libya conflict has reached “unprecedented levels,” with sophisticated equipment and mercenaries involved in the fighting.
Guterres denounced the situation during a ministers-level UN Security Council video conference, expressing particular concern about the military forces massing around the city of Sirte, halfway between Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east.
Libya’s unity Government of National Accord (GNA), with Turkey’s backing, is battling forces loyal to strongman Haftar, who has support from Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates and controls much of the country’s East.
The presence in Libya of Russian and Syrian mercenaries has been raised as problematic since the start of the year.
A United Nations report from November last year also appeared to confirm earlier reports by The New Arab‘s Arabic service accusing Sudanese General Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo of supplying the Libyan warlord with militiamen.
Dagalo, better known by his nickname Hemedti, is the commander of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and a member of the country’s transitional sovereign council.
The force, originating out of the feared Janjaweed militia accused of atrocities in Darfur, is estimated to consist of 30,000 troops under the command of Hemedti.
According to last year’s report, a thousand RSF troops were sent to the eastern city of Benghazi in July in order to protect oil infrastructure there while the main bulk of Haftar’s forces continued their assault on Tripoli in the country’s west.
Sudan, which shares a 330-kilometre (200-mile) border with southeastern Libya, denies the allegations. Speaking to Tiba TV last year, Sudanese Armed Forces spokesman Brigadier General Aamer Mohamed al-Hasan called the claims “false rumours” and stated that the RSF works according to international and UN conventions.
“The Sudanese army is not a security company that can be rented out as claimed in this report,” Hasan said.
Hemedti’s RSF paramilitaries are also present in Yemen, where they fight against the Houthi rebels as part of the Saudi-led coalition.
The paramilitary group has been accused by rights groups of taking large sums from Saudi Arabia to recruit poor young men – and even children – from Sudan’s deprived Darfur region and neighbouring country Chad to serve in Yemen.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has accused the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, ousted last year after months of popular protests, of recruiting, funding and organising the Janjaweed, which are widely accused of carrying out genocide, mass rape and other war crimes.
Under Hemedti, the RSF has served as a border force designed to stop African migrants crossing the desert into Libya and Egypt and a counter-insurgency force battling with rebels in the country’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflict zones.
There the paramilitary force has been accused of human rights violations against civilians.
Hemedti and his RSF came to wider international prominence after the general emerged as a leading figure in the military that replaced Bashir.
The paramilitary group is accused of primary responsibility in last year’s brutal June 3 massacre of more than 100 protesters at a Khartoum sit-in.