Bombing warplanes pounded Khartoum on Saturday with heavy anti-aircraft fire, violating a new ceasefire as fierce fighting between Sudan’s army and paramilitary forces entered a third week.
More than 500 people have been killed since fighting broke out on April 15 between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his number two, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Force.
They have agreed to several ceasefires, but none have held effectively as the civilian death toll continues to rise and chaos reigns in Khartoum, a city of five million people, where many are without food, water and electricity. Locked in their homes due to lack of food.
Thousands of people have been internally displaced within Sudan or have made arduous journeys to neighboring Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and Ethiopia to escape the fighting.
“There is no right to fight for power when the country is falling apart,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Al Arabiya television.
The latest three-day ceasefire is due to expire at midnight (2200 GMT) on Sunday. It was agreed on Thursday after mediation led by the United States, Saudi Arabia, the African Union and the United Nations.
Dozens more have died in the past week since the United States announced an agreed to preliminary ceasefire on April 24.
“We woke up again to the sound of fighter jets and anti-aircraft guns all over our area,” a witness in southern Khartoum told AFP.
Another eyewitness said fighting had continued since morning, especially around the state broadcaster’s headquarters in Omdurman, the capital’s twin city.
Smoke billowed over Khartoum on Saturday afternoon, around the airport area.
– Trading Defects –
As the fighting saw the two rival generals – who seized power in a 2021 coup – target each other in the media, Burhan branded the RSF a militia that aims to “destroy Sudan”, US -based TV channel Alhurra in an interview with .
Daglo denounced the army chief in an interview with the BBC, saying that he was “not trustworthy” and a “traitor”.
Guterres threw his support behind African-led mediation efforts.
“My appeal is to do everything to support the African-led initiative for peace in Sudan,” he told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya.
At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 injured in the violence, according to the health ministry, but the death toll is expected to be much higher.
The United Nations said some 75,000 have been displaced by fighting in Khartoum and the Blue Nile, northern Kordofan, as well as the western region of Darfur.
The fighting has also triggered a mass exodus of Sudanese, foreigners and international workers.
On Saturday, a boat with about 1,900 evacuees arrived at the King Faisal Naval Base in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after crossing the Red Sea from Port Sudan, the latest sea evacuation for the kingdom.
According to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, they are among about 4,880 people, including 139 Saudis and 4,738 others of 96 different nationalities, that Saudi Arabia has so far evacuated from Sudan.
Britain said it would end its evacuation flights on Saturday after airlifting more than 1,500 people this week.
The World Food Program has said the violence could drive millions more to starvation in a country where 15 million people – a third of the population – are already in need of aid to stave off famine.
About 70 percent of hospitals in areas near the fighting have been put out of service and many have been shelled, the doctors’ union said.
– ‘Incredibly worried’ –
The United Nations said at least 96 people were reported killed this week in the town of El Jinina in West Darfur state.
“What is happening in Darfur is terrible, societies are disintegrating and we see that tribes are now trying to arm themselves,” Guterres said.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said there were reports of widespread looting, destruction and burning of property, including camps for displaced people.
Sylvain Perron, MSF’s deputy operations manager for Sudan, said the fighting has forced the agency to pause and halt all its activities in West Darfur.
“We are incredibly concerned about the impact of this violence on those who have lived through waves of violence over the years.”
Darfur is still battling a war that began in 2003 when then-hardline President Omar al-Bashir unleashed Janjaweed militias recruited mainly from Arab pastoral tribes against ethnic minority rebels.
The scorched earth campaign killed at least 300,000 people and displaced close to 2.5 million, according to UN figures, and Bashir has been accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by the International Criminal Court.
Janjaweed later evolved into RSF, which was formally formed in 2013.
The coups of Burhan and Daglo in 2021 derailed Sudan’s transition to established democracy after Bashir was ousted by mass protests in 2019.
But the two generals later fell out, most recently over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army.
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