DUBAI (Reuters) – Bombings hit western areas of the Sudanese capital on Monday morning after rival military factions fought through the night, residents said, with reports of worsening lawlessness in Khartoum and in the western region of Darfur.
Fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have been fighting for more than seven weeks, escalated after a Saudi-brokered ceasefire agreement expired on Saturday night Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The conflict has uprooted more than 1.2 million people in Sudan and sent an estimated 400,000 people to flee to neighboring countries, inflicting heavy damage on the capital where the remaining residents are at the mercy of battles, airstrikes and the ‘anarchy.
Late on Sunday, residents reported heavy fighting in the three cities that make up the country’s capital – Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri – and smoke could be seen rising from several areas early Monday.
“The neighborhood where we live in central Omdurman is being publicly looted daily without anyone intervening to stop it, clashes and shelling continue around us,” said 37-year-old resident Mohamed Saleh. .
In Khartoum East district, RSF troops who dispersed through the capital’s neighborhoods were in complete control and looting extensively, said local resident Waleed Adam.
“You see them right in front of you, taking cars, cash, gold – anything they can get their hands on,” he told Reuters by phone. “I guess it’s only a matter of time before they come to my street.”
The RSF say they are working to protect civilians by arresting looters.
VIOLENCE IN DARFUR
The war has also sparked unrest in Darfur in far western Sudan, an area that was already suffering from mass displacement due to previous conflict and where residents of several towns and villages reported attacks by militias linked to Arab nomadic tribes.
In recent days, at least 40 people have been killed and dozens more injured in Kutum, North Darfur state, according to activists monitoring the area. Residents also reported widespread looting and insecurity in the area.
On Monday, the RSF, which has its power base in Darfur and its origins in Arab-dominated militias, released a video claiming to show it had taken control of the army headquarters in Kutum, a commercial center and one of the largest cities in the state.
There was no immediate comment from the army, which on Sunday denied that the RSF had taken the town.
There have been long communication blackouts in parts of Darfur, where aid groups have found it particularly difficult to bring in new humanitarian supplies.
In El Obeid, a town 360 km (220 miles) southwest of Khartoum and on a key route between the capital and Darfur, residents reported large deployments of RSF forces and the closure of some roads .
The past few days have brought the first downpours of the year to Khartoum, marking the start of a rainy season that could complicate a relief effort already hampered by bureaucratic delays and logistical challenges.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz in Dubai and Adam Makary in Cairo; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)