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Air raids in Khartoum as the Sudanese conflict spreads to West Darfur and dozens are killed


Air and artillery strikes hit Sudan’s capital Khartoum on Saturday as the African country entered its third week of fighting between rival military forces and despite a ceasefire, Reuters reported. The violence, which has spread to West Darfur, has caused a mass exodus of civilians by sea, land and air to neighboring countries and the Persian Gulf states.

As thick smoke rose over Khartoum, the UN envoy offered a possible glimmer of hope, saying the warring parties, who have so far shown no sign of real commitment, are now more open to negotiations. However, no date has been set for possible negotiations.

Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands injured since April 15, when a power struggle erupted between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, sparking the conflict.

Despite the bombing in the early hours of this morning, residents of Khartoum and neighboring cities confirmed that the fighting was less intense this Saturday than it was in the previous days.

The fighting is pushing Sudan into civil war, which is already hampering an internationally backed transition to democratic elections. Moreover, violence can destabilize a volatile region.

Despite repeated calls for a ceasefire by third countries, especially the United States, the warring parties continued to fight fiercely. Both sides blame each other for ceasefire violations. The 72-hour truce ends at midnight Sunday.

On Friday, Sudan’s army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, said he would never sit down with the “rebel” leader of the Rapid Support Forces, referring to Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti. The RSF commander, in turn, said he would not speak until after the army ceased hostilities.

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But the UN Special Representative to Sudan, Volker Perthes, told Reuters that he had recently noticed a change in the positions of the parties and that they were more open to negotiations.

“There was no word ‘negotiations’ or ‘talks’ in his speech during the first week or so,” Perthes said.

It’s no small rebellion

Perthes said the parties have appointed representatives for the proposed talks to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, or Juba, South Sudan, though he said there was a practical question of whether they could get there to “really sit down together.” Perthes said the immediate task was to develop a monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire.

As of Saturday, at least 528 people have been killed and 4,599 injured, Sudan’s health ministry told Al Jazeera, a number slightly higher than the UN tally, which believes the real number is much higher. The United Nations said more than 75,000 people have been internally displaced by the fighting.

Former Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said, at a conference in Nairobi, that the war must end, warning of its repercussions not only in Sudan but in the region. “This is a huge and very diverse country… I think it’s going to be a nightmare for the world,” he said. He added, “This is not a war between an army and a small rebellion. It is like two armies: well trained and well armed.”

evacuation

Tens of thousands of people have fled to neighboring countries, while foreign governments have organized a massive evacuation of expatriates. The Saudi state broadcaster said a passenger ship was in it 1,982 people on board from 17 countries It will arrive at the port of Jeddah on Saturday, and nearly 5,000 have already arrived.

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Britain said the evacuations would end on Saturday as demand for seats on planes fell.

Much of the fighting has taken place in the capital, Khartoum, where RSF fighters are deployed in residential areas and many residents are held back by urban warfare due to lack of water, food, fuel and power.

The fighting has also reignited a two-decade-old conflict in the western region of Darfur, with dozens killed this week.

Zamzam Adam, a 23-year-old pregnant woman, said she was stranded, in labor and alone when armed militias attacked and ransacked her village near the town of El Geneina in West Darfur and neighbors fled across the border. towards Chad.

Adam said, “In our town, gunmen came and burned and looted homes, forcing us to flee.”

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