June 23, 2024

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Echoes of gunfire in the Sudanese capital coincide with foreign powers seeking to extend the truce

Echoes of gunfire in the Sudanese capital coincide with foreign powers seeking to extend the truce

  • Fighting is still raging in the capital, Khartoum
  • The 72-hour ceasefire is set to expire on Thursday
  • International powers seek peace talks
  • Dozens of dead in the conflict disturbs the Darfur region

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan’s army and paramilitary forces clashed in Khartoum on Thursday, testing U.S. and African efforts to stem a conflict that has turned residential areas into war zones and sent tens of thousands fleeing for their lives.

Hundreds of people have been killed in nearly two weeks of conflict between the army and a rival paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, which is locked in a power struggle that threatens to destabilize the wider region.

The RSF accused the army of carrying out air strikes on its forces on Thursday and spreading “false rumours”. The statement made no mention of a proposal for talks, which the military said came from the regional African bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

An army statement said its forces had taken control of most of Sudan, but added that “the situation is somewhat complicated in some parts of the capital” Khartoum, where it claimed it had defeated a large deployment of the Rapid Support Forces.

Reuters witnesses and journalists said he heard air strikes and anti-aircraft fire in Khartoum and the nearby cities of Omdurman and Bahri.

A three-day ceasefire has led to a partial lull in fighting, but it is set to end at midnight (2200 GMT).

Although the fighting has been concentrated in Khartoum, where RSF fighters have holed up in residential areas, it has also spread to the western region of Darfur, where conflict has raged since a civil war broke out there two decades ago.

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The Darfur Bar Association, a rights group, said at least 52 people were killed in attacks by well-armed “militias” on residential neighborhoods in the town of El Geneina, as well as the main hospital, main market, government buildings and several shelters. for the internally displaced.

The city, located in the far west of Sudan, has been the site of frequent tribal conflicts in recent years, displacing the surrounding population several times.

Many foreign nationals remain stuck in Sudan despite the mass exodus that marks one of the largest evacuations since the withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan in 2021. Thursday.

The army said its commander, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, had given its initial approval to the IGAD plan to extend the truce for another 72 hours and to send a military envoy to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, for talks.

The army said the presidents of South Sudan, Kenya and Djibouti had worked on a proposal that included an extension of the truce and talks between the two powers. Their struggle derailed the transition to civilian democracy after a military coup in 2021.

Hundreds of deaths

At least 512 people have been killed and nearly 4,200 wounded in the fighting since April 15.

The crisis has pushed increasing numbers of refugees across Sudan’s borders. Thousands of people, mostly Sudanese, were waiting at the border to cross north into Egypt.

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The conflict has limited food distribution in the vast country, Africa’s third largest, where a third of the 46 million people were already dependent on humanitarian aid.

Abdou Deng, the UN’s top aid official in Sudan, said that “not much can be done” in terms of humanitarian aid.

“We are very concerned about the food supply,” Dingthold told reporters in New York by phone from Port Sudan, where most of the senior UN staff have moved.

“Our aim is to return as quickly as possible to Khartoum, if the situation permits,” he said.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that about 16,000 people entered Egypt from Sudan, including 14,000 Sudanese. The United Nations says about 20,000 refugees have already gone to Chad.

On Thursday, France said it had evacuated more people from Sudan, including Britons, Americans, Canadians, Ethiopians, Dutch, Italians and Swedes. Britain said it may not be able to continue evacuating its nationals when the ceasefire ends, and should try to access British flights out of Sudan immediately.

Food is running out, there is no water for toilets and showers, and electricity is out, said Nigerian law student Omar Yusuf Yaro, 24, at the Africa International University in Khartoum.

“Even as we sit here, you can hear gunshots almost everywhere. We are not safe here,” Yarrow said over Zoom, as some female students can be heard crying in the background.

The Sudan Doctors Syndicate said that 60 out of 86 hospitals in conflict zones had stopped working.

Tensions have escalated for months between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, which collectively overthrew a civilian government in an October 2021 coup, two years after a popular uprising toppled former President Omar al-Bashir.

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Additional reporting by Nafisa El-Taher in Cairo and Tala Ramadan in Dubai. Written by Tom Perry. Editing by Simon Cameron Moore

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.