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World News

Priests missing after Coptic monastery in Sudan attacked by paramilitaries

by Donna Birrell

A Coptic Christian monastery in Sudan has been attacked by rebel forces, according to the organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

It’s reported that members of Sudan’s main paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) attacked the building in Wad Madani, Gezira State on 16 December and have subsequently been using it as a military base.

CSW sources report that at least five priests, five novices (priests in training) and four labourers have been missing since the RSF released video footage of militia men harassing the monastery’s residents.

The RSF has been battling Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) since April when violence erupted as they were due to merge on a transition to democracy. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, and there are numerous reports of widespread sexual violence, looting, the occupation of homes and public buildings, summary executions, mass graves and burned villages.

The RSF has recently expanded its military operations in Gezira State, which is currently home to thousands of people who have been internally displaced by the conflict.

CSW says that as in other states occupied by the RSF, there have been reports of serious human rights violations. Founder President President Mervyn Thomas said:

“CSW is highly concerned by the attack on the Coptic monastery in Wad Madani, and particularly, for the wellbeing of those whose whereabouts remain unknown. We call on all warring parties to conclude a full and comprehensive ceasefire, and to immediately end the escalation in human rights violations which may amount to atrocity crimes. The international community must also take extensive action to ensure that those responsible for egregious violations against Sudanese citizens, both during this conflict and before it, are held to account, and to penalise any nation or entity that is effectively aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes and prolonging the suffering of civilians by funding or arming the belligerents."

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