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  • Writer's pictureSudan Witness

Terror in Ardamata: Civilians detained following reports of torture and executions in the city

Updated: Feb 16

WARNING: This report contains descriptions of graphic violence.

لقراءة المقال بالعربية

Terror in Ardamata_إرهاب في أردمتا (2)
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Figure: A screenshot from a video showing men being beaten by individuals wearing military uniforms . Source: X


  • Two geolocated videos show men in civilian clothing being rounded up and whipped.

  • The alleged perpetrators were wearing military uniforms, including visible RSF insignia.

  • Multiple heat signatures were observed between 2 and 10 November 2023, with satellite imagery showing an active fire on 7 November 2023 and fire damage to residential areas.

Sudan Witness has been closely monitoring online posts surrounding reports of escalating violence in Ardamata, West Darfur, in November 2023. This includes corroborating a video depicting military personnel whipping civilians, verifying footage of detainees on Ardamata bridge, and detecting fires in the city . 

On November 17 2023, the UN said they’d received “preliminary information” suggesting that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied forces inflicted “six days of terror” on civilians in Ardamata, including torture and executions, after the group took control of the Sudanese Army’s military bases on 4 November 2023. 

Initial reports of detained civilians emerged on November 4 2023. On this date, a pro-RSF Facebook account shared a video of a large group of detained men, claiming it was filmed near El Geneina, West Darfur. Freelance journalist Thomas Van Linge reported on X (formerly Twitter) that it was filmed in Ardamata, 5 km northeast of El Geneina.

Figure 1: Map showing the location of Ardamata [13.48728519,22.4898216] Source: Planet Labs PBC / Annotation by CIR

On 6 November 2023, Darfur Victims Support (DVS) shared an image of 14 bodies lying in the street (figure 2). The organisation claimed the photo was taken after the RSF took control of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) 15th Infantry Division base, a military site in Ardamata, a district in El Geneina.

Figure 2: A screenshot from a video showing a large group of detained men (left, unverified) and an image shared by the Darfur Victim Support group of corpses in a street (right, unverified). Sources: Darfur Victims Support via Facebook and X (formerly Twitter)

Although the previous incidents could not be verified, Sudan Witness geolocated another two videos to Ardamata that corroborated these initial reports. One of the videos geolocated by OSINT Sudan & corroborated by Sudan Witness, posted on 7 November 2023 on a pro-SAF X (formerly Twitter) account, appears to show military personnel whipping civilians.

Figure 3: Geolocation of the video showing men being beaten by individuals in wearing military uniforms; geolocated by OSINT Sudan & corroborated by CIR. Sources: X (formerly Twitter)

In a separate video posted on a pro-SAF Facebook account on 8 November 2023, at least 20 detainees are seen sitting on the Ardamata bridge surrounded by six people in military uniforms (figure 4). Sudan Witness geolocated the incident to approximately 500m west of the video filmed on 7 November 2023 (figure 3).

Figure 4: Geolocation of the video showing the detainees on the bridge [13.474955, 22.485774] Sources: Facebook and Google Earth

Sudan Witness also detected 11 fires in the area in early November. Data from NASA FIRMS showed 11 heat signatures between the 2 November and 8 November 2023 (figure 5). Five of these fires were located in the west of the city, close to the SAF’s 15th Division base.

Figure 5: NASA FIRMS data showing five signatures between 2 and 9 November 2023 (left) and the perimeter of the SAF 15th Division base [13.47965669,22.46575499] Source: NASA FIRMS

Planet & Sentinel-2 satellite images supported Sudan Witness’s findings, showing damage to residential areas. Fire damage is visible in various locations on both the east and west bank of the Wadi Kaja riverbed that runs through Ardamata. In addition to burned soil, CIR observed burn damage in heavily-built up residential areas on satellite imagery (figure 6 and figure 7). Satellite imagery also showed signs of an active fire taking place on 7 November 2023 near the Ardamata IDP camp -based on a map of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA)- (figure 6, top right cut-out). Sudan Witness geolocated the fires to approximately 600 m east of the footage depicting whipped civilians  posted on the same date (figure 3).

Figure 6: Planet satellite imagery showing an active fire in the eastern side of Ardamata in a residential area [13.47394083,22.49534173] and burn damage in multiple residential areas from between 2 and 7 November 2023. Source: Planet Labs PBC / Annotation by CIR
Figure 7: Planet satellite imagery captured on 2 and 7 November 2023 of the residential area also shown in the bottom left cut-out of figure 6. Burnt down structures can be seen in the image from 5 November 2023. [13.470841,22.477007] Source: Planet Labs PBC / Annotation by CIR

The images also indicated an active fire on 7 November 2023.

While Sudan Witness was unable to attribute the incidents, men wearing military uniforms with RSF insignia on their sleeves, including the tricolour desert pattern worn by RSF fighters, are visible in both geolocated videos.

Figure 8: An individual in the footage (as shown in Figure 4) of the detained men on Ardamata bridge wearing a military jacket with the Rapid Support Forces insignia on the sleeve [13.474955, 22.485774]. Sources: Facebook and Global Security

Figure 9: A man in an RSF uniform is seen in the footage (as shown in Figure 3), with the presence of the tri-coloured desert pattern worn by RSF fighters. In the video, perpetrators can be heard referring to the detainees as “[...] sons of dogs.” Sources: X (formerly Twitter) and X (formerly Twitter)



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