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Battle of Kutum

Battle of Kutum
Part of 2023 Sudan conflict
DateMay 30 - June 4, 2023
Kutum and Kassab refugee camp, North Darfur, Sudan
Status RSF victory

Sudanese Armed Forces

  • 22nd Infantry Brigade

Rapid Support Forces

Darfur Border Guards
Casualties and losses
Unknown Unknown
75+ civilians killed [1]
90% of Kutum's population flees[2]

The Battle of Kutum was a conflict during the War in Sudan which occurred in and around the town of Kutum in North Darfur.[3] The Rapid Support Forces quickly overran the city, and carried out massacres in the city and the neighboring Kassab IDP camp. The group then attacked neighboring villages in early June.[4]


Kutum is a city in North Darfur state, inhabited primarily by the non-Arab Fur people, with minorities of non-Arab Tunjur and Berti groups.[5] The city lies on a route often used by nomadic Arab tribes, and as a result, many of the villages around Kutum are populated by Arab groups.

Throughout the war in Darfur, Kutum was a hotbed of anti-Bashir activity, and was the site of several battles between various rebel groups, including the Sudanese Liberation Army and National Redemption Front, against Janjaweed and Sudanese armed forces.[6] Janjaweed rebels also attacked non-Arab civilians in Kutum throughout the war.[7] In the late 2010's, these attacks became sporadic, and occurred against civilians in central Kutum.[8]

In 2018, many refugees returned to Kutum, as attacks were dying down in the area.[9] Following the end of the war in Darfur in 2020, attacks continued by gunmen in and around Kutum.[10] Many refugees in Kutum live in Kassab refugee camp, just north of the town.[11][12]

War in Sudan (2023)

Following the Sudanese revolution, Nimir Mohammed Abdelrahman was appointed governor, and Mohammed Hassan Arabi was dismissed.[13] In Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, many Janjaweed enlisted into the Rapid Support Forces led by Hemedti, a paramilitary affiliated with the Sudanese Army founded in 2013. Civilian-administration leader Abdalla Hamdok was overthrown in 2021 by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the transitional military leader, with the aid of the RSF. However, by early 2023, tensions grew between Hemedti and Burhan over the integration of the RSF into the Sudanese Army, as the integration would heavily decrease RSF's independence and effectiveness.[14] These tensions came to a head on April 15, when RSF soldiers attacked SAF positions in Khartoum and Merowe.

On March 17, Hemedti threatened to dismantle IDP camps across Sudan, including those in Kutum.[15]

Battle and massacre

There were no known attacks in Kutum the week fighting broke out on April 15, despite other cities in North Darfur such as El Fasher and Kabkabiya facing attacks by the RSF.[16] This peace continued through May, even as ceasefires in El Fasher held up and the RSF consolidated control over Kabkabiya.[17]

The fighting in Kutum began on May 30 after a local gang killed a Darfur Border Guards officer who was a relative of Janjaweed founder and war criminal Musa Hilal.[18] The RSF then attacked central Kutum, sparking clashes between the group and the SAF.[19] Despite the Sudanese government claiming to have repelled the RSF attack, residents stated that the city was captured by the RSF on June 4.[20] The RSF released a video the next day of RSF fighters touring the garrison of the Sudanese Army's 22nd Brigade and showing captured SAF soldiers.[21]

Clashes broke out in central Kutum on May 30, and spread to Kassab refugee camp on June 4.[22] At least fifty civilians were killed in the attacks on Kassab, with many more injured.[23] In the fighting, the market in Kutum was destroyed, along with much of Kassab.[24] Minni Minnawi, the governor of Darfur region, called Kutum a "disaster zone" on June 5, and deplored the massacres.[23] Residents speaking to Middle East Eye stated that the perpetrators of the attacks on Kassab were the RSF, and that official buildings in the town were torched.[4] Many residents fled to El Fasher or Hashabah, both dozens of kilometers away.[4]

North Darfur governor Nimir Abdelrahman released a statement deploring the killings.[25] On June 7, the Sudanese Combating Violence Against Women Unit stated that at least 18 women, including teenagers, were raped by the RSF and aligned Darfur Border Guards after they captured the city.[26] Attacks on villages surrounding Kutum began on June 9, with the mayor of Farouk town Mohamedein Bektum being executed by RSF fighters after refusing to give up his car key.[27][22][28] In the June 8 and 9 attacks, at least thirty-five more people were killed in RSF attacks.[29] Later, Governor Abdelrahman stated that 5,000 families in Kutum alone were in need of humanitarian assistance.[30] By July, more than 90% of the population of Kutum had fled.[31]


By July, the RSF had imposed fees on remaining Kutum residents in exchange for protection from gangs and reprisal attacks. Merchants along the Kutum-El Fasher road were taxed as well. Remaining residents attest that attacks on nearby villages, along with massacres and rapes, continued.[31]

Further reading


  1. ^ "Sudan fighting escalates after breakdown in ceasefire talks". The Guardian. 2023-06-05. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2023-06-19.
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Rickett, Oscar (5 June 2023). "Dozens of Sudanese killed as RSF attacks North Darfur's Kutum". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2023-06-19.
  4. ^ a b c "Dozens of Sudanese killed as RSF attacks North Darfur's Kutum". Middle East Eye. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  5. ^ "NationStates | Dispatch | Sudan Demographics". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  6. ^ SudanTribune (2006-12-22). "Darfur rebels deny claims of causalities, reiterate Sudan attacked them". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2023-09-11.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "UN peacekeepers 'look on' as 'Russia-backed' war rages in Darfur". France 24. 2014-12-13. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  8. ^ SudanTribune (2016-09-21). "Militiamen kill six villagers and injure several others in North Darfur". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  9. ^ SudanTribune (2018-09-01). "85,600 IDPs return to original villages, say North Darfur authorities". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  10. ^ Dabanga (2021-01-28). "FFC concerned about North Darfur insecurity, El Geneina sit-in continues". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  11. ^ "Situation update on displacements in Darfur 13 July 2014" (PDF). OCHA. July 13, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2023.
  12. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (2012-08-18). "Mixed Signals in Darfur as Attacks Shadow Progress". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  13. ^ SudanTribune (2021-06-14). "Sudan's prime minister appoints 3 state governors in Darfur, Blue Nile". Sudan Tribune. Archived from the original on 2023-05-22. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  14. ^ "Sudan unrest: What are the Rapid Support Forces?". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  15. ^ Himmat, Abdal Monim (2023-03-17). "Darfur, Hemeti's threats to the IDPs to dismantle the camps and target its leaders - Focus On Africa -". Focus On Africa. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  16. ^ Serwat, Ladd (2023-05-04). "Regional Overview: Africa | April 2023". ACLED. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  17. ^ Adan, Ali Mahmoud Ali, Elham Kazemi, Abdulkadir (2023-05-26). "Sudan Situation Update: May 2023 | Fighting Rages Amid Ceasefire Talks". ACLED. Retrieved 2023-09-11.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ Camille (2023-06-06). "North Darfur's Kutum has fallen into RSF hands". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  19. ^ "الجيش السوداني ينفي سيطرة قوات الدعم السريع على مدينة كتم بولاية شمال دارفور". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  20. ^ Reeves, Eric. "Two reports, from two reliable sources, comport all too well with one another. Like El #Geneina, the #Kutum area of North #Darfur is under massive assault by the Rapid Support Forces of #Hemedti. Int'l legitimation of this génocidaire represents a despicable failure of policy". X (formerly Twitter). Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  21. ^ Rapid Support Forces. "الدعم السريع يسيطر علي حامية اللواء 22 كتم بولاية شمال دارفور". X (formerly Twitter). Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  22. ^ a b Kazemi, Ali Mahmoud Ali, Elham (2023-06-23). "Sudan Situation Update: June 2023 | Conflict Intensifies Following the Breakdown of Jeddah Talks". ACLED. Retrieved 2023-09-11.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  23. ^ a b "حاكم دارفور يعلن الإقليم "منطقة منكوبة" جراء أعمال القتل والنهب". Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  24. ^ Sam Magdy (2023-06-04). "US and Saudi Arabia urge Sudan's warring parties to agree new ceasefire". The Irish News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  25. ^ "Sudan Darfur declared 'disaster zone' amid violence". Middle East Monitor. 2023-06-05. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  26. ^ Lisa (2023-06-07). "Accounts of rape increase in war-torn Sudan". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  27. ^ Lisa (2023-06-09). "Darfur: renewed attacks on El Geneina, chaos in Kutum". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  28. ^ Lisa (2023-06-07). "Continuing violence in North Darfur, hospitals in need of aid". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  29. ^ Lisa (2023-06-12). "North Darfur: more people die in Kutum, fears for forced closure of El Fasher hospital". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  30. ^ Bergman, Andrew (2023-06-14). "Kutum declared humanitarian disaster area, violence escalates in South Darfur". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.
  31. ^ a b Bergman, Andrew (2023-07-05). "Kidnapping and protection rackets rife in North Darfur". Dabanga Radio TV Online. Retrieved 2023-09-11.

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Battle of Kutum
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