Sunday, April 14, 2024

Dozens reported dead including three UN staff as Sudanese army and RSF battle over key sites

(BBC News) A power struggle between Sudan’s army and a notorious paramilitary force has rocked the country, with 27 reported dead and hundreds injured.

Residents dodged gunfire in the capital, Khartoum, as rival forces battled over the presidential palace, state TV, and army headquarters.

Among the dead were three UN workers, who were shot after the two sides exchanged gunfire at a military base.

The clashes erupted after tensions over a proposed transition to civilian rule.

Both the army and its opponents, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), claimed they had control of the airport and other key sites in Khartoum, where fighting continued overnight.

Violence was reported elsewhere in the country, including in cities in the Darfur region.

The army said jets were hitting RSF bases, and the country’s air force told people to remain in their homes on Saturday night while it conducted a full aerial survey of paramilitary activity.

At least 27 people have been killed and about 200 others were injured in the violence, a Sudanese doctors’ union said.

It said it did not know how many of the casualties were civilians. Earlier, the union said three civilians had been confirmed dead.

Three employees for the World Food Program (WFP), a UN body that delivers food assistance to vulnerable communities, were killed after the RSF and armed forces exchanged fire at a military base in Kabkabiya, in the west of the country.

Two other staff members were seriously injured, and the RSF looted several WFP vehicles.

Generals have been running Sudan since a coup in October 2021.

The fighting is between army units loyal to de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the RSF, commanded by Sudan’s deputy leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti.

Dagalo said his troops would keep fighting until all army bases were captured.

In response, Sudan’s armed forces ruled out negotiations “until the dissolution of the paramilitary RSF.”

In Khartoum, people were filmed running away and taking cover as black smoke rose over the city.

A Reuters journalist said there were armoured vehicles in the streets, while video showed a civilian plane ablaze at Khartoum airport. Saudi airline Saudia said one of its airbuses came under fire.

Saudia and EgyptAir have suspended flights to Khartoum, and neighbouring Chad has closed its border with Sudan.

Residents had not been expecting the clashes, she said, and many had been caught in transit, with bridges and roads closed and many schools in lockdown.

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