Shelling and heavy shelling continued in parts of Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Saturday, residents said, despite an extension of a ceasefire between the country’s two top generals whose battle for power has left hundreds dead and thousands more for their lives. had to run for
The death toll from Sudanese civilians caught in the crossfire rose to 411 on Saturday, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, which monitors casualties. In some areas in and around the capital, residents reported that shops were reopening and normalcy was slowly returning as the level of fighting subsided following a ceasefire. But in other areas, horrified residents reported rumbling explosions and homes ransacked around them.
Now in its third week, the fighting has injured 2,023 civilians, the syndicate added, though the true toll is expected to be much higher. The Sudanese Ministry of Health put the total death toll at 528, including fighters, with 4,500 injured. The doctors’ syndicate said 89 people had been killed in intense violence in the city of Jena, the provincial capital of war-torn West Darfur.
Khartoum, a city of about 5 million people, has been transformed into a front line in the peace struggle between Sudan’s army commander, Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the powerful paramilitary group. Rapid Support Force. The violence that once sparked encouraging hopes of democratic change in Sudan has been dashed after a popular uprising ousted former dictator Omar al-Bashir.
Foreign countries continued to evacuate their citizens, while hundreds of thousands of Sudanese fled across the border. The first convoy organized by the United States to evacuate hundreds of American citizens from the conflict arrived in the coastal city of Port Sudan on Saturday after a perilous overland journey escorted by armed drones.
Meanwhile, Britain was ending its evacuation flights on Saturday after demand for spots on planes fell. The United Arab Emirates announced on Saturday that it has begun evacuating its citizens along with those of 16 other countries.
The United Nations said more than 50,000 Sudanese refugees – mostly women and children – have crossed into Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, raising fears of regional instability. Ethnic fighting and turmoil have dogged South Sudan and the Central African Republic for years while a 2021 coup derailed Chad’s own democratic transformation.
Survivors of the fighting in Khartoum face more dangers on their way to safety. The route to Port Sudan, where ships evacuate people through the Red Sea, has proved long, exhausting and risky. Hatim al-Madani, a former journalist, said paramilitary fighters were stopping refugees at roadblocks outside Khartoum, demanding they hand over their phones and valuables.
“There is a dacoit, bandit-like nature to the RSF,” he said, referring to Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces. “They don’t have a supply line. It may get worse in the days to come.”
Airlifts from the country have also faced challenges amid chaotic fighting, with a Turkish evacuation plane also being gunned down outside Khartoum on Friday.
On Saturday – despite a ceasefire under heavy international pressure early Friday – fighting continued around the presidential palace, the headquarters of the state broadcaster and a military base in Khartoum, residents said. The battles sent thick columns of black smoke over the city’s skyline.
But in other areas, residents reported signs that the ceasefire was taking hold.
“We are not hearing the sound of bombs like we did before, so we are hoping that means they will go back to a political process,” said Osman Mirgani, a columnist and editor of the daily Al-Tayer. Those who were told it was safe enough to return to their homes in Khartoum on Friday after taking refuge in a remote village.
But residents of Khartoum are forced to live side by side with armed militias. Many RSF militants have moved into civilian homes and taken over shops and hospitals in the capital. He said the paramilitary group had turned the newsroom in Mirgani into a makeshift base. Residents also cope without adequate electricity and running water, along with other basic supplies.
“For the last 14 days we are suffering from lack of everything,” Mirgani said.
Residents of the town of Omdurman, west of Khartoum, have been waiting for at least three days to receive fuel – complicating their escape plans.
The UN relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said UN offices in Khartoum as well as the cities of Djena and Nyala in Darfur were attacked and looted. Sudan’s health ministry said Jinnah’s main hospital was also destroyed in the fighting.
“This is unacceptable – and prohibited under international law,” Griffiths said.
Over the past 15 days, the generals have failed to deliver a decisive blow to each other in their struggle for control of Africa’s third largest nation. With its monopoly on air power, the military appears to have the upper hand in the fighting, but its claims of advances have been impossible to verify.
“Soon, the Sudanese state with its well-established institutions will emerge victorious, and attempts to hijack our country will be put to an end forever,” the Sudanese military said on Saturday.
Both sides in the conflict have a long history of human rights abuses. The RSF originated from the Janjaweed militia, who were accused of widespread atrocities when deployed by the government to quell an insurgency in Sudan’s western Darfur region in the early 2000s.
A unit of Sudan’s armed forces, known as the Central Reserve Police, has been sanctioned by the United States for serious human rights violations against pro-democracy protesters in Sudan.
Allegations of rape, torture and other abuses against protesters carried out by the unit first surfaced in 2021, after Burhan and Dagalo joined forces in a military coup that ousted a civilian government. The Sudanese Interior Ministry confirmed the deployment of the Central Reserve Police in Khartoum on Saturday, posting pictures of fighters armed with heavy machine guns mounted on pickup trucks.
Former prime minister Abdullah Hamdok, who was ousted in a 2021 coup, appealed to a conference in Nairobi, Kenya, to urge the international community to push for an immediate end to the conflict. He warned that a full-blown civil war in the strategically located country would have consequences not only for Sudan but also for the world.
“God forbid if Sudan reaches a proper civil war… It is a huge country and very diverse… It would be a nightmare for the world,” he said.
But the generals have so far publicly rejected efforts to reach an agreement. Regional mediators have been unable to travel to Khartoum because of the fighting.
African Union President Moussa Faki said he would still try to send peacekeepers to the country.
Faki said, “I am prepared to go there myself, even by road.”
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