Sudan conflict enters 3rd as airstrikes, artillery echo in Khartoum

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Warplanes on bombing raids drew heavy anti-aircraft fire over Khartoum on Saturday as the sounds of air strikes, anti-aircraft weaponry and artillery could be heard around the city while fierce fighting between Sudan’s army and paramilitaries entered a third week, violating a renewed truce.

Fighting between the army and a rival paramilitary force continued despite the announcement of a 72-hour ceasefire extension on Friday, when strikes by air, tanks and artillery rocked Khartoum and the adjacent cities of Bahri and Ombdurman.

Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands have fled for their lives in a power struggle between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that erupted into violence on April 15, derailing an internationally-backed transition toward democratic elections.

The fighting has also reawakened a two-decade-old conflict in the western Darfur region where scores have died this week.

The army has been deploying jets or drones on RSF forces in neighbourhoods across the capital. Many residents are pinned down by urban warfare with scant food, fuel, water and power.

At least 512 people have been killed and close to 4,200 wounded, according to the United Nations, which believes the real toll is much higher.

More than 75,000 people were internally displaced within Sudan just in the first week of the fighting, according to the United Nations. Only 16% of hospitals were operating as normal in the capital.

The latest ceasefire, brokered by foreign powers, is supposed to last until Sunday at midnight.

The RSF accused the army of violating it with air strikes on its bases in Omdurman, Khartoum’s sister city at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile rivers, and Mount Awliya.

The army blamed the RSF for violations.

The violence has sent tens of thousands of refugees across Sudan’s borders and threatens to stir instability across a volatile swathe of Africa between the Sahel and the Red Sea.

Foreign governments have evacuated diplomats and citizens to safety over the past week, including with airlifts. Britain said its evacuations would end on Saturday as demand for spots on planes had declined.

Türkiye on Thursday deployed five military transport planes, including two A400M aircraft, to evacuate its remaining citizens from conflict-torn Sudan. Earlier Friday, the Turkish National Defense Ministry announced that a Turkish C-130 evacuation plane headed to Wadi Seidna Air Base for evacuation came under small arms fire.

“As part of plans to evacuate our citizens, one of our C-130 aircraft landed at Wadi Seidna Airport, north of (the capital) Khartoum. There was gunfire from light arms during the landing of our second plane. Despite this, our plane landed safely,” National Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told reporters.

There were no casualties, he stressed.

Akar said a Turkish team inspected the damage to the plane, adding: “According to a preliminary assessment, we do not believe there is major damage. We believe we can repair it by teams we send from here. The exact situation will be clarified with an upcoming report.”

The Turkish National Defense Ministry said Friday that 101 Turkish citizens were safely transported to the country with A400M aircraft.

The U.S. said several hundred Americans had departed Sudan by land, sea or air. A convoy of buses carrying 300 Americans left Khartoum late on Friday on a 850-kilometer (525-mile) trip to the Red Sea in the first U.S.-organized evacuation effort for citizens, the New York Times reported.

In Darfur, at least 96 people had died since Monday in inter-communal violence rekindled by the army-RSF conflict, U.N. human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said.

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