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Death toll climbs in Sudan as fighting continues

This handout aerial SkySat image captured and released on April 16, 2023, by Planet Labs PBC, shows a view of several planes damaged at the Khartoum International Airport.   -  
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Fierce fighting has continued in Sudan’s capital despite a temporary ceasefire to address humanitarian needs including the evacuation of wounded, on the second day of battles that left dozens killed. 

At least five civilians were killed and 78 wounded Sunday, bringing the two-day toll to 61 dead and more than1000 wounded, said the Sudan Doctors' Syndicate.

According to Abdalla Hamdok, Former Sudanese Prime Minister:

“Peace remains the only feasible choice for the people of Sudan to avoid plunging the country into a civil war. Therefore, I call for an immediate cease-fire and to reach an agreement, which leads to a permanent cessation (of hostilities)."

The clashes are part of a power struggle between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the armed forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the Rapid Support Forces group. 

The two generals are former allies who jointly orchestrated an October 2021 military coup that derailed Sudan's short-lived transition to democracy.

The international community, which watched helplessly as the coup d'état took place in October 2021 and has not managed to convince the generals to sign a plan to end the crisis, is multiplying its calls for a ceasefire. The Arab League is meeting urgently at 09:00 GMT in Cairo, at the call of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, two influential players in Sudan.

The divisions between General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, head of the army, and General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, known as "Hemedti", head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) - thousands of ex-militiamen of the Darfur war who have become official auxiliaries of the regular troops - degenerated into violence on Saturday morning in the streets of this country of 45 million inhabitants, among the poorest in the world, torn by war for decades.

The violence continued Sunday morning. The deserted streets of Khartoum were filled with the smell of gunpowder after explosions and gunfire rang out throughout the night. The military had warned in the evening on Facebook: "the air force will conduct operations to finish with the rebel militias of the Rapid Support, civilians must stay home.

In the morning, heavy gun battles opposed military and paramilitary in the northern suburbs of the capital, as well as in the south of Khartoum, witnesses reported. Throughout the capital, men in fatigues, weapons in hand, were walking through streets empty of civilians, while columns of smoke have been rising since Saturday from the city center where the main institutions of power are located.

Artillery fire

Witnesses also reported artillery fire in Kassala, in the country's coastal east.

According to pro-democracy doctors, 56 civilians were killed, more than half of them in Khartoum and its suburbs, while "dozens" of military and paramilitary personnel died, although no precise figures are available. In addition, about 600 people were killed.

The conflict had been brewing for weeks, preventing any political solution in a country that has been trying since 2019 to organize its first free elections after 30 years of Islamo-military dictatorship.

Impossible as it is to know which force is holding what. The RSF announced that it had taken the airport in a few hours on Saturday, but the army denied this. The RSF also claimed to be holding the presidential palace. The army denied this and said it was holding the headquarters of its general staff, one of the main power complexes in Khartoum.

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