Southern Khartoum residents fear ongoing fighting after fuel fire

Residents are trapped in the Sudanese capital as fighting rages around a fuel depot and arms manufacturing site.

Fighting continues in the southern part of Sudan’s capital with residents caught in some of the fiercest clashes in nearly eight weeks of conflict.

Reporting from Omdurman, Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said residents of southern Khartoum reported clashes on Thursday morning near the Yarmouk military complex as the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fought to control it.

On Wednesday, a huge blaze had engulfed a fuel facility next to the complex, which also contains an arms manufacturing company.

“The threat is quite big,” Morgan said. “Residents say they have heard various explosions around the fuel depot and could hear artillery being fired towards the weapons company.”

The RSF claimed to have taken over a warehouse filled with weapons and ammunition as well as several entry points to the heavily protected compound, while the army used air attacks to repel the advance.

Fighting across the three cities that make up Sudan’s greater capital region – Khartoum, Khartoum North and Omdurman – has picked up since a shaky, 12-day ceasefire between the army and RSF formally expired on June 3 after repeated violations.

Morgan said the residential southern part of the capital had initially been spared. “Many people in the capital fled to the southern parts of Khartoum, thinking that it was safer. Now that area is a fighting zone,” she said.

Residents Al Jazeera spoke to over the phone said they want to evacuate, but are afraid to leave their homes amid continuing fighting and a lack of transport.

“Getting out of the capital at this point is quite dangerous for many people,” Morgan said.

Nader Youssef, who lives near Yarmouk, told Reuters by phone on Wednesday that he could see columns of smoke rising in the sky. Due to the proximity of fuel and gas depots, “any explosion could destroy residents and the whole area”, he said.

Aid officials on Thursday said about 300 infants, toddlers and older children at the al-Mayqoma orphanage in Khartoum have been rescued, with reports that some 70 children had died during the fighting.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which helped with the evacuation, said the surviving children, aged between one month and 15 years, were relocated after securing a safe corridor to Madani, the capital of Gezira state, about 135km (85 miles) southeast of Khartoum.

The ICRC said 70 caretakers have been transferred with the children.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies