Arrested militia leader accused of trying to destabilise Sudan

Khartoum (Sudan): A powerful militia leader Musa Hilal has been arrested along with his three sons and aides after his men killed 10 members of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) including a commander in clashes on Sunday in restive Mistiriyha, North Darfur, state media reports.

The latest clashes took place when RSF went there to disarm the militias as part of a nationwide campaign launched by the government against outlaws. Among those killed was RSF director of general supplies Brigadier Abdel-Rahim Gumma of Hilal’s home town, Mistiriyha.

Confirming the arrests, RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Hemedti told the official news agency SUNA that Hilal is conspiring with foreign forces to destabilise Sudan. Among those arrested was a foreign national equipped with advanced communication devices. It is alleged that Hilal is seeking the support of Libyan general Khalifa Haftar who controls the eastern parts of Sudan.

Hemedti said such attacks will not deter RSF from carrying out its duty to impose the authority of the state.

Hilal’s Um Jalul clan leads the Arab Mahamid tribe in Darfur. He was once a close ally of President Omar al-Bashir and even led the pro-government Janjaweed militia to suppress a conflict in 2003 started by Darfur’s black African rebels who felt slighted by Khartoum.

Instead of containing the rebellion, Hilal’s militias killed about 300,000 unarmed villagers of Darfur.

The International Criminal Court in Hague had issued arrest warrants against President Basheer for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Basheer rejected the charges. Hilal faces UN sanctions for his suspected role in the massacre.

After leaving the Janjaweed militia three years ago, Hilal retreated to Mastariha where he founded the Awakening Revolutionary Council (ARC) in March 2014 by recruiting local administration leaders and militants from various tribes in Saraf Omra.

RAC opposes the government’s disarmament campaign and refuses to hold talks with it on the issue.