Sudan civilians killed in battle for Khartoum police HQ

AFP , Monday 26 Jun 2023

At least 14 civilians have been killed in war-torn Sudan's capital as rival forces are locked in a key battle over control of the Khartoum police headquarters, activists said Monday.

File - Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, Friday, June 23, 2023. AP


The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which since mid-April has been fighting Sudan's regular army, claimed late Sunday a "victory in the battle for the police HQ".

"The headquarters is under out complete control... and we have seized a large number of vehicles, arms and munitions," the RSF said in a statement, noting the capture of pick-up trucks, armoured vehicles and tanks.

If the RSF, led by Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, maintain their hold on the strategic site, it "would have a major impact on the battle of Khartoum", a former army officer told AFP, requesting anonymity.

Nearly 2,800 people have been killed across Sudan since a power struggle between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Daglo spilled into war more than two months ago, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

The actual death toll is expected to be much higher, with both forces failing to report casualties and many bodies left lying in the streets of Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur, where most of the violence has occurred.

The Khartoum police headquarters, on the southern edge of the city, gives the RSF "control of the southern entrance to the capital", the former officer said.

The presence of the paramilitaries there can also pose "a serious threat to the armoured corps headquarters" nearby, one of the army's most important strongholds in south Khartoum.

 'Rockets on homes' 

While army forces loyal to Burhan vow to recapture the police headquarters, video footage released by the RSF shows the paramilitaries have already seized vast amounts of arms and munitions as fighting nationwide grinds on.

An army source said the RSF has lost "more than 400 men" in the battle for the police headquarters. The paramilitaries have not provided any casualty figures.

On Sunday, "14 civilians including two children were killed" in that area, according to a network of activists organising rescue operations and evacuating the wounded to the few hospitals still operating.

According to the activist committee, 217 others were wounded, "including 72 in critical condition", by "stray bullets, air raids or shelling" in residential neighbourhoods in Khartoum's south.

Two-thirds of health facilities in the main battlegrounds remain out of service, with some bombed and others occupied by fighters.

The few hospitals still operating are extremely low on medical supplies, struggling to obtain fuel to power generators, and understaffed with some workers having fled or hit by the fighting.

Darfur, a vast western region on the border with Chad, has witnessed the deadliest violence since the war erupted on April 15.

In Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state, at least a dozen civilians were killed on Sunday, according to a local doctor.

But the doctor, speaking anonymously for security reasons, noted that "the violence of the fighting restricts movement" of victims to hospital.

Residents reported intense artillery fire overnight, one of them told AFP on Sunday. "Rockets are falling on civilian homes."

As more Sudanese flee for safety every day, there have also been increasing reports of sexual violence and looting.

Some two million people have been displaced within the country, and roughly 600,000 others have fled over Sudan's borders, the International Organization for Migration has said.

Short link: