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Air strikes pound Sudan's capital as conflict enters second month

Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals. — AFP
Smoke billows in the distance in Khartoum amid ongoing fighting between the forces of two rival generals. — AFP

DUBAI: The Sudanese army carried out air strikes in the north of the capital Khartoum on Monday, attacking its paramilitary rivals around a hospital that witnesses said was damaged in the bombardment.

Intense battles in Khartoum and its sister cities of Bahri and Omdurman have raged despite Saudi and U.S.-brokered talks between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Jeddah aimed at securing humanitarian access and a ceasefire.

The fighting has spread to the western region of Darfur, but has been concentrated in the capital, where RSF fighters have taken up positions across neighbourhoods and the army has used air strikes and heavy artillery fire to target them.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Hemedti held the top positions on Sudan's ruling council following the 2019 overthrow of former leader Omar al-Bashir during a popular uprising, and staged a coup two years later as a deadline to hand power to civilians approached.

The war began after disputes over plans for the RSF to join the army and the chain of command in a new political transition.

It has caused about 200,000 to flee into nearby countries and over 700,000 have been displaced inside Sudan, triggering a humanitarian crisis that threatens to destabilise the region.

Residents report a rise in looting and lawlessness after police vanished from the streets at the outset of the conflict. On Monday, Burhan replaced the head of the police, in one of several of changes of senior officials after the central government largely ceased to function.

The unrest has killed at least 676 people and injured 5,576, according to official figures, though the real toll is expected to be much higher.

On Monday an employee of Sharq el-Nil hospital said the southern part of the facility had been hit by an air strike.

The army said it had hit arms and fuel depots around the hospital, which it said had been occupied by the RSF, and that there were no civilian casualties.

Last week the two sides agreed a "declaration of principles" to protect civilians and secure aid access, but enforcement mechanisms and a ceasefire are still being discussed. — Reuters

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