Renewed air strikes rock Sudan truce

AFP , Thursday 27 Apr 2023

Fierce clashes erupted between the Sudanese Armed forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital Khartoum Thursday, while deadly fighting flared in Darfur as the conflict entered a 13th day despite a US-brokered ceasefire.

In this image grab taken from handout video footage released by the Sudanese paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on April 23, 2023, fighters ride in the back of a technical vehicle (pickup truck mounted with a turret) in the East Nile district of greater Khartoum. AFP


Late on Wednesday, the army said it had agreed to talks in Juba, capital of neighbouring South Sudan, on extending the three-day truce which expires on Friday "at the initiative of IGAD", the East African regional bloc.

There have been multiple truce efforts since fighting broke out on April 15 between Sudan's regular army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary RSF commanded by his deputy turned rival, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. All have failed.

The fighting has continued depite the US-brokered ceasefire that took effect on Tuesday, with warplanes patrolling the skies over the capital's northern suburbs as fighters on the ground have exchanged artillery and heavy machine gun fire, witnesses said.

Burhan agreed on Wednesday to the IGAD proposal for talks on extending the truce by a further 72 hours, the army added.

The RSF's response to the proposal remains unclear.

At least 512 people have been killed and 4,193 wounded in the fighting, according to health ministry figures, although the real death toll is likely to be much higher.

Violence beyond Khartoum

In a statement on Thursday, the Sudanese army announced that the military situation within and outside the capital city of Khartoum remains stable, except for the tribal conflict in West Darfur, which is being addressed by local authorities.

​Clashes between the army and the RSF raged for a second straight day in the West Darfur capital Geneina, witnesses said, adding that civilians were seen fleeing to the nearby border with Chad.

The army reported that its forces have gained control of most states, but the situation in some parts of the capital is complicated due to the mobilization of the RSF.

“The coming days will witness a significant breakthrough “, the army said. However, the army remains optimistic, stating that the coming days will witness a significant breakthrough.

Additionally, the RSF attempted to attack the central command headquarters but were repelled with heavy losses.

The army also reported that random bombing in central Khartoum by the enemy has resulted in the destruction of some buildings and facilities.On Wednesday, the United Nations humanitarian agency had reported killings, looting and arson in Geneina.

"An estimated 50,000 acutely malnourished children have had nutrition support disrupted due to the fighting," it added in a statement.

The heavy fighting has trapped many civilians in their homes, where they have endured severe shortages of food, water and electricity. Communications have been sporadically disrupted.

The UN has warned that as many as 270,000 people could flee into Sudan's poorer neighbours South Sudan and Chad.

Other Sudanese have sought refuge in Egypt to the north and Ethiopia to the east, but both entail long and potentially dangerous journeys overland.

The UN said it had "received reports of tens of thousands of people arriving in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, and South Sudan".

"If the armed confrontation between these two forces protracts - or worse, if it draws in other armed rebel groups across the country - this could quickly become one of the worst humanitarian crises in the region and risk spilling over," Cambridge University academic Sharath Srinivasan told US news outlet Politico.

Foreign governments have taken advantage of the fragile truce to organise road convoys, aircraft and ships to get thousands of their citizens out but some have warned their evacuation efforts are dependent on the lull in fighting holding.

China deployed warships on Thursday to evacuate its citizens, the defence ministry said.

 War crimes suspect escapes 

As lawlessness has gripped Sudan, there have been several jailbreaks, including from the high security Kober prison where top aides of ousted president Omar al-Bashir were held.

Among those who have escaped is Ahmed Haroun, wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in the Darfur conflict that erupted two decades ago.

Haroun's escape sparked fears of the involvement of Bashir loyalists in the ongoing fighting.

The army said the ousted president was not among those who escaped but had been moved to a military hospital before the fighting erupted.



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