Sudan has been hit by a second day of violent clashes, with gunfire and explosions reported in the capital, Khartoum, and other cities. The deadly conflict between the Sudan military and a heavily armed paramilitary force has led to the deaths of at least 74 civilians and “dozens” more military personnel, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors. While most civilian casualties occurred in Khartoum, fatalities were reported in other provinces, with Nyala recording the highest number.
The violence comes as three Sudanese World Food Program workers were killed in Darfur, with two further deaths reported in Bahri. The situation in Sudan remains tense and unstable. The World Food Program (WFP) has temporarily suspended all its operations in Sudan due to the threats posed to its teams, making it impossible to operate safely and effectively. The decision comes as Sudan faces a food crisis, with over 15 million people – more than a third of the population – experiencing food shortages.
According to doctors in Sudan, the death toll of civilians in the country’s capital and other cities, resulting from the ongoing conflict between the military & heavily armed paramilitary forces, reached 74 on Sunday.#Sudan #SudanClashes #SudanCrisis #SudaneseArmy #Sudanconflict pic.twitter.com/wRDsN2ROu1
— News Live (@NewsLiveFree) April 17, 2023
The WFP’s suspension of activities will hit families hard, especially with the upcoming Eid holiday, a significant event in the Muslim calendar that follows a month of fasting. The recent outbreak of violence in Sudan, which has led to at least 74 civilian deaths, was sparked by long-standing tensions between the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful paramilitary group led by Vice President Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemedti), and the military, led by President Lt. General. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.
Confirmed Clash in Sudan
The ongoing conflict in Sudan between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has its roots in a power-sharing agreement that unraveled. The RSF, a powerful paramilitary group led by Hamdan Dagalo, was supposed to be integrated into Sudan’s national forces under the deal, which aimed to bring about a return to civilian rule.
However, disagreements over the timeline and terms of the integration led to a fallout between the rival factions, who took power in 2021. In 2019, a civilian government took power following the ousting of long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir, but it was overthrown in 2021, coupled with al-Burhan and Hemedti. This has dashed the hopes of many Sudanese citizens for a civilian-led democracy, which they had fought for in a mass uprising four years ago.
According to Kholood Khair, the founding director of Confluence Advisory, a think tank based in Khartoum, it is still too early to predict the long-term impact of the current conflict on Sudan’s future. Khair believes that the first step towards resolving the crisis should be establishing a cease-fire, followed by a political process to ease tensions between the military factions and eventually pave the way for a civilian-led government.
Despite the United Nations announcing a cease-fire agreement between both sides, reports from Khartoum indicate that gunfire and explosions were still occurring more than an hour after the truce was scheduled to begin. Satellite imagery from Maxar shows black smoke emanating from several key locations, including the Khartoum railway authority, the Ministry of Energy, and the army’s general command, in addition to two incinerated planes at the international airport and the Kober bridge across the Nile River.
Sudan in Turmoil: Army Claims Control of RSF Bases as Fighting Intensifies in Khartoum
According to a statement released Sunday by the Sudanese army, it had successfully taken over all bases belonging to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) located in Omdurman, a suburb outside the capital city of Khartoum. The army also claimed to have gained control of RSF bases in various locations, including Port Sudan. Both sides have often given conflicting reports on their control of different regions.
Dallia Mohamed Abdelmoniem, a resident of Khartoum and former journalist, described the intense fighting in the city, stating that the sound of bullets raining down was ceaseless and had only increased since the previous day. She also mentioned that bullets had struck her home, and the air was filled with the scent of gunpowder and hot metal. To stay safe, Abdelmoniem and her family moved to the wind, with less room, but the loud blasts and artillery were still audible.
The situation was dire enough that even the children were too afraid to eat, sleep, or talk. According to Christine Roehrs, who represents the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, a German government-funded nonprofit organization, several households in the capital city of Khartoum have been without electricity for 16 hours due to the scorching 100-degree Fahrenheit temperatures.
Roehrs is located near Khartoum International Airport, where she can hear the sounds of aircraft flying overhead and what appears to be ammunition being dropped. Other eyewitnesses have shared images of smoke rising over the city and damaged buildings. However, residents have been forced to keep their windows closed for fear of being hit by bullets amid the ongoing conflict in the area.
U.S. Urges Saudi Arabia and UAE to Help End Hostilities in Sudan
The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has called for an immediate end to hostilities in Sudan without any preconditions after speaking with Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud and Emirati Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Both the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia (KSA) have significant influence in Sudan and could play a vital role in the conflict’s resolution.
Sudan, a predominantly Muslim country, is in dire need of financial assistance to revive its economy. In his statement, Blinken urged the military leaders of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan and General Mohamed Hamdan Degalo, to take active measures to reduce tensions and return to negotiations that support the Sudanese people’s democratic aspirations.
The ongoing crisis in Sudan has external powers backing different factions, further complicating efforts to end the conflict. General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, has close ties with Russia, whose mercenary group, the Wagner group, reportedly supports his gold-mining interests.
On the other hand, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan is backed by neighboring Egypt, the most populous Arab nation. This external support has the potential to prolong the crisis in Sudan, and it also threatens to destabilize Sudan’s fragile neighbors. Chad, for example, has already announced the closure of its border with Sudan due to the instability.
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