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Shootouts in Sudan capital on Eid holiday, army moves in on foot

April 21, 2023 at 10:34 am

Smoke rises during clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum, Sudan on April 19, 2023 [Ömer Erdem/Anadolu Agency]

Gunfire ripped through several neighbourhoods of Sudan’s capital Khartoum on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr on Friday, after the army deployed on foot for the first time in its almost week-long fight with a paramilitary force, reports Reuters.

Soldiers and gunmen from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) shot at each other in residential areas of the north, west and centre of the city, including during the call for special early morning Eid prayers, witnesses said.

The unabated fighting has killed hundreds and undermined an effort by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to broker a temporary truce over the three day holiday and allow civilians to reach safety.

In the absence of a ceasefire, foreign nations including the United States have been unable to evacuate their citizens from Sudan.

Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said on Thursday he saw “no other option but the military solution” to the power struggle with the paramilitary force that erupted into violence last weekend.

The conflict between two previously allied leaders of the ruling military junta, army chief Burhan and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, risks drawing in Sudan’s neighbours and could play into regional competition between Russia and the United States.

Explained: The power struggle behind fighting in Sudan

The thud of heavy weaponry could also be heard across the Khartoum and its sister cities, together one of Africa’s biggest urban areas. Army troops brandishing semi-automatic weapons were greeted by cheers on one street, footage released by the military on Friday showed.

Reuters verified the location of the video, in the north of the city, but could not immediately verify when it was filmed.

The World Health Organisation said at least 413 people have already been killed and thousands injured in the conflict, which has tipped Sudan into a humanitarian disaster, with hospitals under attack and up to 20,000 people fleeing into neighbouring Chad.

Even before the conflict, about a quarter of Sudan’s people were facing acute hunger. The UN World Food Programme halted its Sudan operation, one of its largest, on Saturday after three of its workers were killed.

The violence was triggered by disagreement over an internationally backed plan to form a new civilian government four years after the fall of autocrat Omar al-Bashir to mass protests, and two years after a military coup.

Both sides accuse the other of thwarting the transition.

Death toll rises as clashes continue in Sudan - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]

Death toll rises as clashes continue in Sudan – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]