Rockets hit Khartoum market as talks break down

People walk past a bullet-riddled building in a shell-hit market in southern Khartoum - Thursday, June 1, 2023

Market stalls were destroyed and buildings riddled with bullets following fighting on Wednesday

Rockets hit a market in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, killing 18 people and injuring more than 100, according to medics and residents.

The fighting between rival military forces comes as truce talks brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia have collapsed.

Wednesday’s violence around a market in Mayo, south Khartoum, included artillery fire and aerial bombardment.

It caused the most civilian casualties in a single incident in the capital since the war began in April.

That brings the seven-week civilian death toll to at least 883, according to official counts – although the true number is likely to be much higher.

Neighborhood organizations – which help Khartoum residents get food and medicine – have described the situation as catastrophic and have appealed for doctors and blood donations.

With so much violence taking place in urban areas, civilians are in constant danger.

On Tuesday, the army and its rivals in the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had agreed to extend last week’s humanitarian ceasefire agreement by five days, in talks brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia.

But the next day, the army pulled out of the talks, alleging that the RSF were not committed to the conditions.

The United States says both sides have violated the ceasefire – adding that they remain ready to help mediate a truce despite being serious about ending the violence.

The ceasefire had allowed emergency aid to reach around two million people, but continued insecurity had “prevented delivery to many more people and blocked operations to restore essential services”, it said. said a US State Department spokesperson.

New sanctions were also announced by the US Treasury Department aimed at cutting off vital funding from the two warring parties.

Of the four companies listed, one owns gold mines and is controlled by the head of the RSF. A multibillion-dollar arms manufacturer that supplies the military is also on the list.

Given that Sudan has faced years of restrictions imposed by the United States in the past, it is unclear whether any of the companies have or need ties to America.

According to the UN, 25 million people, more than half of Sudan’s population, are now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection.

With talks no longer taking place, there are fears of an escalation in fighting – heavy gunfire was reported Thursday morning across the Nile from Khartoum in the towns of Bahri and Omdurman.

“We are terrified by the sounds of heavy artillery around us. The house is shaking,” a 49-year-old Omdurman resident told Reuters news agency.

The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) has said its warehouses in El Obeid, North Kordofan state, with food for 4.4 million people, are under attack.

“It is inadmissible to steal from the hungry. This must stop”, WFP chief Cindy McCain tweeted.

The fighting, which has also been fierce in Sudan’s western Darfur region, is the direct result of a fierce power struggle between the two generals who led the 2021 coup – army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti.

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