Air strikes hit outer areas of the Sudanese capital Khartoum overnight and on Saturday morning, as fighting that has trapped civilians in a humanitarian crisis and displaced more than a million entered its sixth week.
The fighting between Sudan’s army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has led to a collapse in law and order with looting that both sides blame the other for. Stocks of food, cash, and essentials are rapidly dwindling.
Air strikes were reported by eyewitnesses in southern Omdurman and northern Bahri, the two cities that lie across the Nile from Khartoum, forming Sudan’s “triple capital”. Some of the strikes took place near the state broadcaster in Omdurman, the eyewitnesses said.
“We faced heavy artillery fire early this morning, the whole house was shaking,” Sanaa Hassan, a 33-year-old living in the al-Salha neighbourhood of Omdurman, told Reuters by phone.
“It was terrifying, everyone was lying under their beds. What’s happening is a nightmare,” she said.
The RSF is embedded in residential districts, drawing almost continual air strikes by the regular armed forces.
Eyewitnesses in Khartoum said that the situation was relatively calm, although sporadic gunshots could be heard.
In recent days ground fighting has flared once again in the Darfur region, in the cities of Nyala and Zalenjei.
Both sides blamed each other in statements late on Friday for sparking the fighting in Nyala, one of the country’s largest cities, which had for weeks been relatively calm due to a locally-brokered truce.
On Friday, army leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan removed RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo as his deputy on the ruling council they lead. He replaced him with former rebel leader Malik Agar.
In a statement on Saturday, Agar said he had accepted the position in order to help secure peace and support for the upcoming agricultural season, whose failure would spell widespread hunger.
He said his message to the army was that “there is no alternative to peace but peace and no way to peace other than dialogue.”
“My message to the RSF is that there is no way for stability except with one united army,” he added, but it remains unclear how much influence he will have on either side.
Among the many looted buildings in the capital are several churches, including the Virgin Mary church in downtown Khartoum, according to a church official. Armed men gave the bishop a week to vacate the church’s premises, after which they looted it before setting it up as their base, he said.
Church leaders have said they are not sure if attacks are targeted or part of the overall “chaos” gripping Khartoum.
In a statement, Qatar said that its embassy was the latest in a string of looted embassies. Reuters

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