Sirba — Legal rights activist Mohamed Tirab estimates that at least 460 people have died in the fighting in Sirba, 23 km from El Geneina in West Darfur, with more than a thousand people wounded. Tirab, the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), and local tribal leaders accuse the army of failing to protect civilians.
According to Tarib, gunmen are still looting, killing, and burning homes inside the locality and this initial death toll is likely to climb. Abu Surouj camp for the displaced in the locality is reportedly targeted as well.
No one can enter Sirba at the present time to gather information on exact details, Tirab said. “These are preliminary numbers of those who were found on the outskirts of the region, who fled to Chad.”
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied gunmen took control of Sirba on Wednesday and prevented people from leaving the town. RSF soldiers and allied Arab gunmen launched their first attacks on Sirba locality on Monday.
Tirab told Radio Dabanga that the violence continued for at least four consecutive days after the many houses and shops at the market were torched after they had been plundered on Thursday.
A number of residents managed to flee to Chad under difficult circumstances, leaving behind family members, especially the elderly. The humanitarian conditions for those fleeing to Chad are very difficult, Tirab said.
He called on humanitarian organisations to help those fleeing to Chad and appealed to the international community and the International Criminal Court to conduct an investigation, arrest the leaders of the militia that attacked the areas of Sirba, and to bring them to trial.
Tirab accused acting Deputy Governor El Tijani Karshoum of attacking Sirba locality after the army garrison commander fled. Eringa tribal leaders also held Karshoum, the commander of the 56th Army Brigade, and the director of the Sirba Military Intelligence responsible for the violence.
According to a statement by the Sons of Eringa Gathering, both military leaders withdrew from the area before the attacks began “by arrangement of the deputy governor”.
The Darfur Bar Association also accused the army of failing to protect Sudanese citizens and condemned the killings and displacement by the RSF and affiliated gunmen in Sirba locality, including in Abu Surouj camp for the displaced in the locality.
In a statement on Saturday, the DBA confirmed the claim by the Eringa leaders that the RSF, backed by tribal militias, attacked the locality using 127 four-wheel drive vehicles equipped with all kinds of weapons and that the forces burned and looted homes all week.
Many residents of Abu Surouj camp and the wider locality were killed and dozens were injured, including children, women, and the elderly.
The DBA received several reports that influential local figures in Sirba and Abu Surouj camp were deliberately targeted and that many local leaders were killed. Workers in educational facilities and worshipers in the ancient Sirba Mosque were also killed.
In the violence in El Geneina, which has been branded as genocide, many influential figures were targeted as well, from lawyers and activists to politicians and tribal leaders.
The DBA stated that it is ready to provide all kinds of advocacy and support. It appealed to human rights organisations to join the advocacy campaign for the people of Sirba “to stop the violations against them, provide humanitarian aid to families fleeing the hell of war, and to prosecute the perpetrators of grave crimes committed against civilians”.