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  • Writer's pictureSudan Witness

Fighting and fire at Wad Madani market

Updated: Feb 16

لقراءة المقال بالعربية

Fighting and fire at Wad Madani market_قتال وإطلاق نار في سوق ودمدني (1)
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Wad Madani market, Gezira 

Figure 1: Location of Wad Madani market


  • On 29 December 2023, a Sudanese anti-war human rights activist posted a video to X (formerly Twitter) showing damage and debris in Wad Madani market, Gezira state. The post stated that violence occurred in the days following the RSF’s takeover of Wad Madani on 18 December 2023, and held the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) responsible.

  • Sudan Witness has verified two incidents in the days after 18 December. The first was an active fire nearby on 22 December 2023. The second, posted on 23 December 2023 and likely filmed between 18-23 December, was RSF soldiers positioned near the market claiming responsibility for the takeover of Wad Madani . 

On 18 December 2023, the RSF seized Wad Madani, Sudan's second largest city, leading to the displacement of at least 300,000 civilians and killing of dozens. Wad Madani has been a base for refugees from the capital, Khartoum, since fighting broke out between the SAF and RSF in April 2023.

On 29 December 2023, a Sudanese anti-war activist posted a video to X (formerly Twitter) showing destruction to Wad Madani market in Gezira. The footage shows streets covered in debris, burnt vehicles, and damage to storefronts. Sudan Witness geolocated the footage to Al Masah road, part of the market neighbourhood of Wad Madani (figure 2). 

Figure 2: Geolocation of a video showing damage and debris on Al Masah Road, Wad Madani [14.40146988,33.5259182] Sources: Google Earth and X (formerly Twitter)

Sudan Witness has not confirmed the date the video was taken on. However, the description of the post states that the market was attacked over an “up to” 10 day-period by the RSF, who are referred to as a “terrorist militia.” This period likely began following the RSF seizing the city on 18 December 2023. As of 11 January 2024, Sudan Witness had verified two incidents within the days after 18 December, both of which suggest that there was armed conflict in Wad Madani within that time period. 

The first instance of verified damage took place on 22 December 2023. Planet satellite imagery showed an active fire over an unnamed building on Alboshi road (two blocks southwest of the central market hub) on 22 December 2023 (figure 3). NASA FIRMS data also confirmed the date of the fire, with two heat signatures visible over the market on 22 December 2023. 

Figure 3: An active fire observed through Planet satellite imagery to an unnamed building on Alboshi Road, Wad Madani  on 22 December 2023 [14.40092505,33.52645817] and NASA FIRMS imagery showing heat signatures over the Wad Madani market on 22 December 2023 (insert). Source: Planet and NASA FIRMS

On 26 December 2023, Africa News reported that Wad Madani locals blamed the RSF for the incidents. Sudan Witness has not yet been able to assess attribution for the incidents as the available information was inconclusive at the time of writing [12/01/2024], but has confirmed RSF presence in the area. On 23 December 2023, a Sudanese doctor reposted a video on X showing RSF soldiers at a market and debris and damage to the streets. 

On 23 December 2023, a pro-SAF account reposted a video on X showing RSF soldiers at a market and debris and damage to the streets. At 0:03 seconds into the video, a patch is visible on the front of a soldier’s uniform, reading ‘Rapid Support Forces’ in Arabic (قوات الدعم السريع) (figure 4). The tri-coloured desert pattern camouflage and Sudanese flag on the soldier’s left shoulder (both typical of RSF uniforms) are visible (figure 4). In the footage, the soldier filming states “[t]his is the grand market of Madani. They say Madani can’t be hit but we hit it hard.” CIR geolocated the video to Al-Hilal road (figure 5), confirming RSF presence in the central market area. Though CIR has not verified what date the video was taken on, the soldier’s reference to events that occurred on 18 December 2023 (the RSF seizing control of Wad Madani), indicates that the video was filmed after 18 December, and on or before the video’s posting (23 December).

Figure 4: Screenshots from a video, originally posted on a private TikTok of the man pictured, showing a man in military uniform with a ‘Rapid Support Forces’ patch on the chest and the RSF insignia and Sudan Flag on the shoulders. Source: X (formerly Twitter)

Figure 5: Geolocation of footage showing the RSF present on Al-Hilal street, next to the central market hub in Wad Madani [14.4019971,33.5288913] Sources: Google Earth and X (formerly Twitter)


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