Witnesses accused gunmen from Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces of launching an assault on a distant town on Friday, followed by a spree of shooting and looting that caused fear and terror among the local population.

Gunmen from Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces were accused of attacking a remote town on Friday before going on a shooting and looting rampage that witnesses said “terrorized” its people.

For nearly three months, the RSF commanded by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has fought the regular army under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in a war that has claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people and displaced millions.

El-Obeid, 350 kilometres south of Khartoum, is a strategic logistical and commercial hub, with an airport and huge warehouses for the storage of foodstuffs.

The fighting since April 15 has been centered on the capital Khartoum as well as North Kordofan and the vast western region of Darfur, where the United Nations has warned of possible “crimes against humanity”.

Many civilians have accused the RSF of carrying out acts of violence against them, while also charging that the armed forces have done little to protect them.

Since the war erupted, the RSF has established bases in residential areas while the army has struggled to take advantage of its air superiority.

The RSF has been accused of forcing civilians out of their homes, seizing their vehicles, robbing them and raping women as they flee to neighboring countries.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP