Sudan’s Capital Khartoum Struck by Air Strikes as Conflict Enters Sixth Week
Air strikes have targeted the outskirts of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, during the night and on Saturday morning. The ongoing fighting, which has resulted in a dire humanitarian crisis and the displacement of over a million people, has now entered its sixth week.
The conflict between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces has led to a breakdown of law and order, with widespread looting that both sides blame each other for. The availability of food, cash, and essential supplies is rapidly diminishing.
Eyewitnesses reported air strikes in the southern district of Omdurman and the northern district of Bahri, both located across the Nile from Khartoum, forming Sudan’s “triple capital.” Some of the strikes were observed near the state broadcaster in Omdurman, according to the witnesses.
In Khartoum itself, the situation was relatively calm, although sporadic gunfire could be heard, as per eyewitness accounts.
Since the conflict began on April 15, nearly 1.1 million people have been internally displaced or sought refuge in neighboring countries. The World Health Organization reports that at least 705 individuals have lost their lives, with over 5,287 injured.
Attempts to reach a resolution through talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia in Jeddah have been unsuccessful, with both sides accusing each other of violating multiple ceasefire agreements.
Sanaa Hassan, a resident of the al-Salha neighborhood in Omdurman, described the frightening experience of heavy artillery fire that shook their entire house. The situation is a nightmare, she expressed.
The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces are embedded in residential areas, attracting frequent air strikes by the regular armed forces.
In recent days, ground fighting has reignited in the Darfur region, particularly in the cities of Nyala and Zalenjei.
Both sides have blamed each other for initiating the clashes in Nyala, one of Sudan’s largest cities, which had previously enjoyed relative calm due to a locally-brokered truce. Activists reported sporadic gun clashes near the main market close to army headquarters on Saturday morning. Over the past two days, at least 30 people have lost their lives in the fighting, according to activists.
The conflict in Khartoum erupted over disagreements regarding the integration of the Rapid Support Forces into the army and the future chain of command, as outlined in an internationally backed agreement to transition Sudan towards democracy after years of autocratic rule.
Late on Friday, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced over $100 million in aid to Sudan and countries hosting Sudanese refugees, including vital food and medical assistance. Samantha Power, head of the agency, expressed the difficulty in fully conveying the extent of the suffering currently unfolding in Sudan.