Sudan’s capital shaken by clashes, thousands flee

Khartoum (Caasimada Online) – Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, is embroiled in escalating violence between the army and paramilitary forces, leading to the deaths of an estimated 200 people.

Thousands of residents have sought refuge outside the city as the conflict enters its fifth day following the collapse of a brief truce.

The hostilities erupted on Saturday due to a bitter dispute between two generals, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

The disagreement revolved around the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army, a pivotal condition for a final deal aimed at resuming Sudan’s democratic transition.

Humanitarian crisis unfolding 

Witnesses reported loud explosions and heavy gunfire in Khartoum on Wednesday morning, accompanied by thick black smoke from buildings near the army headquarters.

The fighting has left the city’s civilians with dwindling food supplies, power outages, and a lack of running water.

Despite attempts to implement a humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday, it collapsed within minutes of its proposed start.

As thousands of people began leaving Khartoum on Wednesday, they reported streets littered with dead bodies.

Governments have started planning evacuations for thousands of foreigners, including many United Nations staff members.

Japan announced it had begun preparations to evacuate around 60 of its nationals, including embassy staff.

Accusations and breaches of ceasefire

After the truce collapsed, the army accused the “rebel militia” of failing to commit to it and continuing “skirmishes around the army headquarters and the airport.”

The RSF countered by accusing the army of “committing violations” and breaching the ceasefire by launching “sporadic attacks” on its forces and bases around the capital.

The United Nations reported that the fighting has resulted in at least 185 deaths and over 1,800 injuries.

However, the actual figures may be much higher, with many wounded unable to reach hospitals under fire, according to the official doctors’ union.

Deafening explosions have rattled buildings and shattered windows, instilling terror in residents who hunker down, hoping for an end to the violence.

Offices and residential buildings throughout the city have sustained damage, with shattered windows and bullet-riddled facades.

Electricity and water outages are widespread in many parts of Khartoum, forcing residents to venture out during lulls in fighting to purchase food and supplies.

A struggle for power and democracy

The ongoing conflict takes place during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, with over 120 civilians killed in a crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations over the past 18 months.

Both generals involved in the conflict have positioned themselves as saviors of Sudan and guardians of democracy.

The violent outbreak culminates in deep divisions between the army and the RSF. Burhan and Daglo toppled long-time autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 following mass protests against his rule.

The two then led a military coup against the civilian government in October 2021, derailing an internationally backed transition.

With each side claiming the upper hand, it remains to be seen how this escalating conflict will ultimately impact Sudan’s prospects for a return to democracy.

The power struggle between the two generals continues to fuel the violence, jeopardizing Sudan’s fragile transition and causing suffering for countless civilians caught in the crossfire.