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  • Writer's pictureSudan Witness

Wad Madani, El Gezira: Arrests, detention, and killings in Sudan's second city

Updated: Feb 13

15 - 20 December 2023 

Graphic content warning: This report contains potentially distressing images, including images of the bodies of deceased civilians.

Executive Summary

On 15 December 2023, media reports emerged indicating that the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were advancing towards Wad Madani, the capital of El Gezira state in east-central Sudan, leading to an escalation of violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF. The Guardian subsequently reported that the RSF took control of the city on 18 December. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) reported that at least 250,000 to 300,000 people fled Gezira state in the first three days following the escalation of violence on 15 December.

Social media users documented footage showing arrests, detentions, and killings across Wad Madani in the days around the offensive, between 15 and 20 December. Analysis of the captions and audio of footage indicated the repeated use of degrading and dehumanising language towards people in civilian clothing, who were frequently accused of supporting the RSF. According to Al Jazeera, rumours of alleged RSF sleeper cells had prompted the SAF to “unlawfully arrest dozens of young men” during the first two days of the RSF offensive. 

In light of these developments, CIR verified four separate series of incidents between 15 and 20 December 2023. In all cases, SAF affiliated actors or supporters referred to victims as members or supporters of the RSF. Although CIR was not able to verify what happened to the different groups of people seen in footage analysed under Case 1, Case 2 and Case 4, the three videos verified under Case 3 portray a full sequence of events that took place in Wad Madani on 17 December 2023. The footage shows men in uniforms that resemble those of the Sudanese police and the General Intelligence Services (GIS) arresting two people in civilian clothing in the streets of Wad Madani, before driving them towards the west of the city. The final piece of footage shows the motionless bodies of the two detained men. In the background of all three videos, people can be heard celebrating the capture of alleged “RSF supporters”. 

Although CIR could not verify the identity of the victims or the motivation behind the arrests and killings, the patterns identified in the report suggest the likely involvement of SAF-affiliated actors in human rights interferences in Wad Madani between 15 and 20 December. 


Key Event Details


Locations of incidents

Case 1

Case 2

Case 3

Case 4

Alleged perpetrator(s) and/or involvement

Annex: A note on methodology


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