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Airstrikes by Sudanese army rock Khartoum as fighting between rival forces continues

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A man walks while smoke rises above buildings after aerial bombardment, during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum North, Sudan, May 1, 2023. (Reuters photo)

The Sudanese army has launched new airstrikes against the positions of paramilitary forces in Khartoum, as fighting between the rival forces shows no signs of abating across the capital.  

Media outlets quoting witnesses reported that aerial attacks by the army targeting the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were heard across several residential neighborhoods in southern Khartoum, including near the Taiba camp, on Thursday.

The army has mainly used air power and heavy artillery as it tries to drive back the RSF. This is while a police reserve force aligned with the army battled the RSF on the ground.

"The bombardment and the clashes don't stop and there's no way to flee from our homes. All our money is gone," said Salah el-Din Othman, a 35-year-old resident of Khartoum.

"Even if we leave our houses again we're afraid that gangs will loot everything in the house… we are living a nightmare of fear and poverty," Othman added. 

The Sudanese capital has been turned into a desolate war zone after more than a month of fierce fighting between the army and the RSF.

The fighting has now spread out across large areas of Khartoum and its adjoining cities of Bahri and Omdurman across the Nile over the past few weeks.

Violence has also flared in Darfur in western Sudan and in North Kordofan State, and other parts of the country, but the power struggle has been focused on the capital.

Both army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, are thought to have remained in Khartoum throughout the fighting.

On Wednesday, the army released a video showing Burhan dressed in army fatigues greeting troops at the army headquarters in central Khartoum.

Neither the army nor the RSF has been able to gain decisive victories in the capital Khartoum.

About 1,000 people have been killed, mainly in and around Khartoum as well as the ravaged state of West Darfur, according to medics.

Nearly a million have been displaced as civilians bear the brunt of the war that erupted last month.

According to the latest estimates, more than 840,000 people have been displaced within Sudan and over 220,000 have fled to neighboring countries such as Chad, Egypt and South Sudan.

Sudan's conflict inflicts a heavy toll on children. The UN children's agency said 368,000 children have been forced from their homes in Sudan, and a further 82,000 have fled to neighboring states. It estimates 190 children were killed in the first 10 days of the war, and 1,700 injured. 

International organizations have, however, warned that millions of Sudanese are unable to flee and are trying to survive acute shortages of water, food, medicines, and fuel as well as power and internet blackouts.

The aid effort has been hampered by the deaths of some humanitarian workers early in the conflict and repeated cases of looting.

The UN World Food Programme said it was ramping up its operations across at least six states in Sudan to assist 4.9 million vulnerable people, as well as assisting those fleeing to the neighboring countries.

The UN said on Wednesday that more than half of Sudan's 46 million population needed humanitarian assistance and protection. It also said it had received reports of "horrific gender-based violence" in Sudan.

Burhan and Hemedti took the top positions on Sudan's ruling council following the 2019 overthrow of strongman Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising. They staged a coup two years later as a deadline to hand power to civilians approached.

The latest conflict broke out on April 15 after disputes over plans for the RSF to join the army and over the future chain of command under a deal for a political transition towards civilian rule.

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