Air raids hit Sudan capital despite Eid truce

Residents and local reports say intense fighting continuing in Omdurman on Wednesday afternoon as UN urges the warring Sudanese army and paramilitary RSF group to maintain the ceasefire.

Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, Wednesday, June 7, 2023. Saudi Arabia and the United States have urged Sudan's warring parties to agree to and "effectively implement" a cease-fire as the fighting in the northeastern African nation showed no signs of abating.
The United Nations mission in Sudan stressed the need for both SAF and RAF parties to maintain the Eid ceasefire [File: AP Photo]

Air raids and anti-aircraft fire struck Sudan’s capital Khartoum according to residents, despite warring parties declaring truces for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The war between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that started in April has caused a major humanitarian crisis and displaced nearly 2.8 million people, of which almost 650,000 have fled to neighbouring countries.

The three cities that make up the wider capital around the confluence of the River Nile – Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman – have seen more than 10 weeks of heavy clashes and looting, while the conflict has triggered a resurgence of ethnically motivated killings in the western region of Darfur.

Residents and news reports said fighting had intensified in Omdurman on Wednesday afternoon. The United Nations mission in Sudan on Wednesday stressed the need for both parties to maintain the ceasefire.

“A the same time, the RSF and allied militias remain accountable for violence against civilians, rape and looting in the areas they control, including in Khartoum, and ethnically targeted violence against civilians in Darfur”, the mission said in a statement.

“The SAF remains accountable for attacks in civilian populated areas, including aerial bombardments of residential areas in Khartoum.”

The conflict broke out amid disputes about what powers they would retain under an internationally backed plan for a transition to civilian rule.

Multiple ceasefire deals have failed to stick, including several brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States at talks in Jeddah that were suspended last week.

Grim situation in Darfur

In the western region of Darfur, the situation has continued to worsen. Entire cities are under siege, the UN said, and neighbourhoods have been burned to the ground.

The Darfur Bar Association, an activist group that monitors the conflict, said the RSF had carried out lethal attacks in the Manwashi area of South Darfur State twice in the past five days.

Residents – as well as the UN, United States and others – have said civilians have been targeted and killed for their ethnicity by the RSF and allied Arab militias.

In 2003, former President Omar al-Bashir armed and unleashed the RSF’s predecessor, the government-back militia called “Janjaweed” by rebels, against Darfur’s non-Arab ethnic minorities.

The United Nations says 300,000 people were killed and 2.5 million displaced in the Darfur conflict, which erupted in the vast western region in 2003.

Since April, more than 170,000 people have fled Darfur into neighbouring Chad, according to the UN refugee agency.

A total of almost 645,000 people have sought refuge outside Sudan, according to the latest International Organization for Migration data, with about 2.2 million more displaced within the country.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies