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Air strikes hit Khartoum's outskirts as Sudan's war enters sixth week

Smoke rises above buildings in southern Khartoum as violence between two rival Sudanese generals continues. — AFP
Smoke rises above buildings in southern Khartoum as violence between two rival Sudanese generals continues. — AFP

CAIRO/DUBAI: Air strikes hit outer areas of the Sudanese capital Khartoum overnight and on Saturday morning, as fighting that has trapped civilians in a humanitarian crisis and displaced more than a million entered its sixth week.

The fighting between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has led to a collapse in law and order with looting that both sides blame the other for. Stocks of food, cash, and essentials are rapidly dwindling.

Air strikes were reported by eyewitnesses in southern Omdurman and northern Bahri, the two cities that lie across the Nile from Khartoum, forming Sudan's "triple capital". Some of the strikes took place near the state broadcaster in Omdurman, the eyewitnesses said.

"We faced heavy artillery fire early this morning, the whole house was shaking," Sanaa Hassan said, a 33-year-old living in the al-Salha neighbourhood of Omdurman.

"It was terrifying, everyone was lying under their beds. What's happening is a nightmare," she added.

The RSF is embedded in residential districts, drawing almost continual air strikes by the regular armed forces.

The conflict, which began on April 15, has displaced almost 1.1 million people internally and into neighbouring countries. Some 705 people have been killed and at least 5,287 injured, according to the World Health Organization.

Saudi- and US-sponsored talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah have not been fruitful, and the two warring sides have accused each other of violating multiple ceasefire agreements.

In recent days ground fighting has flared once again in the Darfur region, in the cities of Nyala and Zalenjei.

Both sides blamed each other in statements late on Friday for sparking the fighting in Nyala, one of the country's largest cities, which had for weeks been relatively calm due to a locally-brokered truce.

The war broke out in Khartoum after disputes over plans for the RSF to be integrated into the army and over the future chain of command under an internationally backed deal to shift Sudan towards democracy following decades of conflict-ridden autocracy.

Army leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan removed RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as his deputy on the ruling council they lead. He replaced him with former rebel leader Malik Agar.

In a statement on Saturday, Agar said he had accepted the position in order to help secure peace and support for the upcoming agricultural season, whose failure would spell widespread hunger. — Reuters

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