The commander of the Sudan Liberation Army's Messalit forces, Khamis Abdullah Abaker, was one of the first villagers to organise self-defence units. He described how in 1998-2003, he served five years of a 20-year sentence for rebellion four of them shackled, in solitary confinement in a windowless cell of less than two square metres. Repeated beatings have left him scarred for life. 'In December 1997, the government and Arabs were together in Jebel Endia, north of Geneina, in training camps', he told Africa Confidential.
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