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Almost 100 Dead in Sudan Fighting Between Army and Paramilitary Forces

Smoke rises from the tarmac of Khartoum International Airport as a fire burns, in Khartoum, Sudan April 17, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.
Smoke rises from the tarmac of Khartoum International Airport as a fire burns, in Khartoum, Sudan April 17, 2023, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video.

KHARTOUM, SUDAN — A doctor’s group in Sudan reported early Monday that the death toll for civilians caught up in the fighting between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary force has grown to at least 97, with 365 injured, according to Reuters. Other reports say as many as 600 people have been injured.

Also Monday, the International Rescue Committee, or IRC, announced that it has halted its Sudan operations except in Tunaydbah, where it said it is still able to provide services to the refugee population.

In a statement, IRC Regional Vice President Kurt Tjossem said, “Conflict has disrupted humanitarian action where over a third of the population, an estimated 15 million people, including refugees, are experiencing acute food insecurity. Humanitarian actors have limited ability to enter and operate in areas with ongoing war. The IRC calls upon all stakeholders to work without delay to address outstanding issues with a view to achieving a lasting, inclusive political peace.”

The fighting erupted Saturday between army units loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of Sudan's transitional governing Sovereign Council, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, deputy head of the council.

The U.N. had announced a three-hour cease-fire late Sunday afternoon between the two groups, yet residents told media that heavy explosions and continued gunfire, as well as airstrikes pounding RSF targets, could be heard Sunday night.

Early Sunday, heavy gunfire could be heard in downtown Khartoum, around Sudan’s military headquarters and the presidential palace.

Both the military and the RSF have claimed control of these strategic locations.

“This looks like fighting to the finish,” Saliman Baldo, director of Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker, an anti-corruption campaign, told VOA’s James Butty.

Baldo said he does not think any attempt at mediation would work because it appears both generals have branded each other as criminals and could be prepared to fight it out.


Dozens Killed in Sudan Amid Fighting Between Army, Paramilitary Forces

The U.S. and British foreign ministers have called for an “immediate cessation of violence” in Sudan and urged the opposing parties to return to talks. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British counterpart James Cleverly made their statement the sidelines of the G-7 talks.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the fighting between Sudan’s military and a paramilitary force that has killed three U.N. workers for the World Food Program.

Guterres “strongly condemns the deaths and injuries of civilians, including the death of three staff members of the World Food Program in North Darfur, with a further two seriously injured,” the U.N. chief's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement, adding: “Those responsible should be brought to justice without delay.”

The statement said, “United Nations and other humanitarian premises have also been hit by projectiles and looted in several locations in Darfur.”

Guterres reiterated a call for an immediate cease-fire between the warring groups, the U.N. statement said.


Syrian Families Stranded in Sudan’s Capital Amid Clashes

The World Food Program says it has suspended operations in the country after the deaths of its staff members.

The head of the Sudanese journalists’ syndicate, Abdulmuniem Abu Idris, told VOA via a messaging application that about 12 journalists, including four women, have been stranded in the Sudanese Kuwaiti business center since Saturday morning.

Abu Idris had earlier appealed to the warring parties to create a safe corridor for them to go to their families.

“I am calling on the two parties to create a safe passage for all the civilians inside the conflict areas, especially the journalists who have been stuck since yesterday,” he said.


Sudan Fighting Creates Humanitarian Issues

The Sudanese-Kuwaiti business center is located east of the presidential palace along the Nile River. It is a working office space for many media outlets.

Abu Idris says described the area as a “serious” confrontation zone between the military and the RSF.

He says those journalists and other civilians would be in need of basic items to survive.

“They don’t have food; they are not in a safe area because they are inside the area of the exchange fires. And we are calling on the Red Crescent to intervene and rescue the civilians and those journalists,” he said.

Reports say recent tensions between the army and the RSF stem from disagreements with how the RSF should be integrated in the army and who should oversee that process. It’s part of an effort to restore the country to civilian rule and end a political crisis sparked by a military coup in October 2021.


Sudan Transition Deal Delayed, Protesters March Against Talks

The African Union’s Peace and Security Council held an extraordinary meeting Sunday in Nairobi to discuss the situation in Sudan. Participants appealed to the Sudanese military and RSF leaders to de-escalate confrontation and restore stability.

Arab League countries also condemned the fighting in Sudan, calling for calm.

Egypt and South Sudan announced in a joint statement their intention to mediate between Sudan’s warring parties.


Sudanese Paramilitary Force Ready to Ease Return of Egyptian Troops

Some information for this article came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.