Fighting escalates in Khartoum as fighting in Sudan enters its 11th week

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Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) says it has seized the headquarters of a heavily armed police unit in southern Khartoum.

Fighting, artillery fire and airstrikes intensified in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, witnesses said, as a war between rival military factions that has displaced 2.5 million people and sparked a humanitarian crisis enters its 11th week.

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) said it seized the headquarters of a heavily armed police unit on Sunday as it sought an edge in its war with the army during heavy fighting in the capital.

The RSF said in a statement it had taken full control of the Central Reserve Police camp in southern Khartoum, and posted footage of its fighters at the facility, some taking boxes of ammunition from a warehouse.

“Now this headquarters of the Central Reserve Police in the southern part of the capital is about 12 km [7.5 miles] from another camp belonging to the Rapid Support Forces, which has been under attack for several days by the Sudanese army using fighter jets and heavy artillery,” Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said from Omdurman.

“The camp also has a lot of ammunition and it seems that it is one of the targets for the RSF trying to take control of the unit because of the vehicles, ammunition and weapons there.”

However, Morgan added that it is not clear whether the RSF will be able to hold the police headquarters by the end of the day, as fighting is still ongoing and the Sudanese army has sent reinforcements.

Witnesses also reported a sharp increase in violence in recent days in Nyala, the largest city in the western region of Darfur. The United Nations raised the alarm on Saturday about ethnic attacks and the killing of people from the Masalit community in El Geneina in West Darfur.

Khartoum and El Geneina have been hardest hit by the war that broke out on April 15 between the Sudanese army and the RSF, although last week tensions and clashes escalated in other parts of Darfur and in Kordofan, in the south.

Fighting has intensified since a series of ceasefire agreements negotiated during United States-Saudi Arabia-led talks in Jeddah fell through. Talks were adjourned last week.

Residents of the three towns that make up the wider capital – Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman – reported heavy fighting from Saturday night that continued into Sunday morning.

The army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has used airstrikes and heavy artillery to try to drive the RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, from neighborhoods in the capital.

“We have had airstrikes and artillery bombardments and RSF anti-aircraft fire since early morning in northern Omdurman,” 47-year-old resident Mohamed al-Samani told Reuters by phone. “Where are the conversations in Jeddah, why has the world left us alone to die in the war of Burhan and Hemedti?”

In Nyala, a city that grew rapidly as people were displaced during the earlier conflict that spread into Darfur after 2003, witnesses reported a marked deterioration in the security situation in recent days, with violent clashes in residential areas.

Last week there was also fighting between the army and the RSF around El Fashir, the capital of North Darfur, which the UN says is inaccessible to humanitarian aid workers.

In El Geneina, which has been almost completely cut off from communications networks and relief supplies in recent weeks, attacks by Arab armed groups and the RSF have forced tens of thousands of people to flee the border into Chad.

On Saturday, UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani called for safe passage for people fleeing El Geneina and access for aid workers after reports of summary executions between the city and the border and “continued hate speech”, including calls to kill the Masalit or kill them. to expel.

According to the International Organization for Migration, of those uprooted by the Sudanese conflict, nearly two million have been internally displaced and nearly 600,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

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