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Damage to the Sheikh Qarib Allah mosque in Omdurman. Credit: Facebook/Al-Fateh Hassan El-Shiekh

Sudan

SAF-affiliated Islamist militia detonates explosives inside mosque

27 Mar 2024

An Islamist militia affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) vandalised and detonated explosives inside the Sheikh Qarib Allah mosque in Omdurman, Sudan last week.

The mosque is in an area that has been under SAF control since early March 2024, and a reliable source confirmed that prior to this date it had not been damaged in any exchanges of fire between the SAF and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with whom the SAF is in conflict. Video footage posted on 20 March shows significant damage to the inside of the mosque from the explosives.

SAF-affiliated media has accused the RSF of digging up shrines at the mosque in an effort to provoke religious tensions; however, the mosque has confirmed that its shrines have not been touched.

Islamist militias affiliated with the SAF, particularly the Al-Bara bin Malik Brigade, have been empowered by the ongoing war. On 12 March 2024 – a week before the attack on the mosque – SAF soldiers supported by a significant number of the brigade seized control of the Sudanese state broadcaster’s headquarters from the RSF, and militia men were reportedly overheard chanting about Sudan becoming ‘an Islamic state only’.

SAF soldiers are also responsible for other egregious violations. Video footage posted on social media on 15 February shows troops in SAF uniform parading in a street with decapitated heads while chanting ethnic slurs, and in a separate incident, hanging a corpse in a car and appearing to skin it. Another video shows a group of them covering a civilian’s face and threatening him with a knife while asking him about his religion.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘CSW condemns the attack on the Sheikh Qarib Allah mosque and the continuing severe violations being perpetrated by the SAF and its affiliated Islamist militias. These incidents highlight the risk of Sudan’s evolution towards an Islamic State (IS) model if the war persists and these militias become more powerful. CSW continues to call for a full and comprehensive ceasefire between all warring parties, and urges the international community to assist wherever possible in bringing an end to the violence, while ensuring a significant role for civil society in discussions on a post-conflict Sudan.’

Note to Editors:

  1. The RSF and SAF have been in conflict since 15 April 2023, when violence erupted as the two forces were due to merge in line with an internationally supported framework agreement on a transition to democracy. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, and there are numerous reports of widespread sexual violence, looting, the occupation of homes and public buildings, summary executions, mass graves and burned villages.

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