RSF Fighters Plunder Homes and Terrorize Residents in Khartoum
For more than nine months, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of Sudan have controlled large parts of the capital, Khartoum. In that time, witnesses say the militia’s fighters have plundered the city and terrorized residents even as their leader pledges to work toward peace.
“They don’t have any [political] goal here,” Nidal Asma, a young woman living in Khartoum, told Al Jazeera. “They love to attack, loot and destroy. It’s revenge.”
Al Jazeera changed Asma’s name to protect her identity.
Residents of Khartoum say the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fighters led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, are using the same tactics in the capital that they used to attack and destroy pastoralist communities in Darfur.
Thousands of Khartoum residents have fled the fighting, and, in the process, lost everything they left behind to looters and destruction. RSF fighters are accused of looting banks, evicting residents from their homes, and violently attacking civilians.
“I thought the fighting would stop in a couple of days and that it would return back to normal,” Khartoum resident Sara Awad told Al Jazeera in May 2023. Like many city residents, Awad packed what she could on short notice and abandoned her apartment.
More thana week later, she called her neighbors to discover RSF fighters had taken control of the apartment building and looted the residences.
“I left my whole life in that apartment,” Awad told Al Jazeera.
Aziz Musa, head of a Sudanese digital marketing agency and now living in exile, posted on X, formerly Twitter, soon after fighting began that almost every home in his neighborhood is occupied by RSF fighters.
“RSF have looted almost every house and are staying [inside] them 3-8 soldiers at a time,” Musa posted.
In some cases, fighters have taken their families from Darfur and Kordofan and set them up with new lives in Khartoum, often amid the city’s remaining residents who were either too poor or unable to evacuate when the fighting began.
Residents told Al Jazeera that violence by RSF fighters includes shooting at street children and sexual assaults. Hemedti and other RSF leaders claim their fighters are patrolling the streets to protect residents, but residents say the fighters are often committing the violence.
RSF fighters impose a sunset curfew in areas they control. They have banned residents from using vehicles, forcing them to walk or ride donkey carts. What fuel exists goes for more than $14 per liter. Food and medicine are increasingly scarce as the rival Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) withholds deliveries to prevent them from falling into the RSF’s hands.
Fighters harass or arrest young men in Khartoum and demand to know where older residents stand on the conflict. Women remain in their homes rather than risk assault when they venture out.
By establishing footholds in residential buildings, office blocks and even hospitals, RSF fighters have made all those places targets for SAF attacks, leading to more death and destruction, according to observers.
Fighting has destroyed large parts of Khartoum’s electricity and water systems. The landmark Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co. tower was destroyed by fighting in September. In late January, fighting between the RSF and SAF in Khartoum’s eastern neighborhoods of El Riyadh, El Ta’if and Arkaweet created panic among residents and destroyed multiple homes, according to Radio Dabanga.
Like many Khartoum residents, Musa expressed his dismay at the destruction of Sudan’s capital.
“It still seems surreal,” he posted on X. “Our Khartoum [is] devastated. And for what?”