Sudan’s military leader travels to Egypt in his first trip abroad since the war

CAIRO (AP) — Sudan’s top miliary officer is traveling to Egypt on Tuesday on his first trip abroad since the country plunged into a bitter conflict this year, authorities said.

Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, chairman of the ruling Sovereign Council, was expected to hold talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on the latest developments in Sudan, the council said in a statement.

Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when simmering tensions between the military, led by Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary, Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere.

The conflict has reduced the capital to an urban battlefield, with the RSF controlling vast swaths of the city. The military command, where Burhan has purportedly been stationed since April, has been one of the epicenters of the conflict.

Burhan managed last week to leave the military headquarters, where he has been stationed since the breakout of the conflict. He visited military facilities in Khartoum’s sister city of Omdurman and elsewhere in the country. Burhan traveled to Egypt from the coastal city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea.

Despite months of fighting, neither side has managed to gain control of the capital, Khartoum, or other key areas in the country. Last week, large explosions and plumes of black smoke could be seen above key areas of the capital, including near its airport.

Egypt has longstanding ties with the Sudanese army and its top generals. In July, el-Sissi hosted a meeting of Sudan’s neighbors and announced a plan for a ceasefire. A series of fragile truces, brokered by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, have failed to hold.

The conflict has turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields. Many residents live without water and electricity, and the country’s health care system has nearly collapsed.

The sprawling region of Darfur saw some of the worst bouts of violence in the conflict, and the fighting there has morphed into ethnic clashes with RSF and allied Arab militia targeting ethnic African communities.

Clashes also intensified earlier this month in the provinces of South Kordofan and West Kordofan.

The fighting is estimated to have killed at least 4,000 people, according to the U.N. human rights office, though activists and doctors on the ground say the death toll is likely far higher.

More than 4.6 million people have been displaced, according to the U.N. migration agency. Those include over 3.6 million who fled to safer areas inside Sudan, and more than 1 million others who crossed into neighboring countries.

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