Fighting resumes in Sudan’s capital after 24-hour truce expires


Khartoum (Reuters) – Sustained clashes and artillery fire were reported in parts of Sudan’s capital Khartoum early on Sunday soon after the end of a 24-hour ceasefire that had brought a brief lull to eight weeks of fighting between rival military factions.

Witnesses said fighting resumed after the ceasefire expired at 6 a.m. (0400 GMT) in the north of Omdurman, one of three adjoining cities, along with Khartoum and Bahri, that make up the capital around the confluence of the River Nile.

Residents said there had been artillery fire in the Sharq el-Nil area on the eastern outskirts of the capital, and around a bridge linking Omdurman and Bahri. Blasts and clashes were also reported in Khartoum.

War between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on April 15 over tensions linked to an internationally backed plan for a transition towards civilian rule.

The conflict has displaced more than 1.9 million people, triggering a major humanitarian crisis that threatens to spill across a volatile region.

Fighting has been concentrated in the capital, much of which has become a war zone plagued by looting and clashes.

Unrest has also flared elsewhere including the western region of Darfur, already suffering from a conflict that peaked in the early 2000s.

Residents and activists have reported a further deterioration in recent days in El Geneina, near the border with Chad, and new waves of attacks by Arab nomadic tribes with ties to the RSF. The city has been largely cut off from telephone networks for several weeks.

Looting Everywhere’

Another affected city is El Obeid, capital of North Kordofan State southwest of Khartoum and on a major route to Darfur. Residents say it is effectively under a state of siege due to the conflict, with supplies of food and medicine cut off.

The wider Kordofan region is an important agricultural area and source of livestock, oilseeds and gum arabic.

“The situation is difficult. The RSF are spread out on the roads between the villages and they are looting, and there are gangs looting everywhere. Moving from place to place became dangerous,” North Kordofan resident Mohamed Salman told Reuters by phone.

“We don’t know how we’ll plant or how we’ll live in this situation.”

The RSF has said it is trying to counter looting, and has denied responsibility for the violence in Darfur.

Some 400,000 of those who have fled their homes have crossed into neighbouring countries, about half of them heading north to Egypt.

On Saturday, Egypt tightened entry rules by extending a requirement for entry visas from men aged 16-50 to all Sudanese citizens.

Even before the rule change, thousands of Sudanese had faced long waits near the border as they tried to obtain visas.

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