Since the start of the bloody conflict between two rival generals in Sudan, Mohammed had been holed up in his home with his family, amid the din of explosions, until the day the paramilitaries came to dislodge him.
His apartment is in a northern suburb of Khartoum, the capital, one of the hot spots of the fighting that has pitted General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane 's army since April 15 against the paramilitaries of General Mohamed's Rapid Support Forces (FSR). Hamdan Daglo.
Mohammed (an assumed name, like that of the other interviewees, at their request for security reasons), 54, spent days there to the sound of passing planes, heavy artillery fire, and batteries anti-aircraft that shook the whole neighborhood, supporting the long power cuts and the shortages of water and food.
Until the paramilitaries parked their vehicles in front of the entrance. "They knocked on the door and asked us to leave," says Mohammed, who immediately took what he could, locked it, and took refuge with his family with relatives in a less exposed neighborhood.
When he returned a few days later to check the condition of his accommodation, he found that the door had been forced open. In the apartment, he saw paramilitaries sitting and using his belongings. "I was interrogated before being allowed to go home," he said. "The whole building has turned into a barracks filled with weapons and ammunition".
Witnesses reported RSF positions set up on residential streets in Khartoum, with paramilitaries hiding trucks covered in camouflage under trees.
Men in military uniforms in pick-ups equipped with machine guns roamed the streets. Many residents of this capital of five million people reported that their homes had been hit in the fighting.
Babiker, 44, like many of his neighbors, had to abandon his home in central Khartoum amid the firefight. Two weeks later, he found it busy.
"More than 20 paramilitaries lived there," says Babiker, who was only able to access it after half an hour of questioning. "They used all the appliances and cooked in our kitchen," he continues. "All the rooms we had closed before leaving were open".
The paramilitaries have also seized many hospitals, which they have transformed into de facto "barracks", according to the resistance committees, the militant neighborhood cells that emerged during the uprising against ousted President Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
A Sudanese woman, citing "the last neighbor left in the neighborhood", testified on Twitter last week to the occupation by the RSF of her family house in Khartoum, "where my cousins and I have all our documents, our objects precious and our memories". "The FSR soldiers are getting out of control", including General Daglo, she says.
The violence in Sudan has left more than 750 dead and 5,000 injured, according to NGOs and the authorities, the UN estimating the number of displaced persons and refugees at some 900,000, of which about a fifth to neighboring countries.
In the absence of progress in the negotiations which opened on May 6 in Saudi Arabia, Tahany has also decided to take the difficult path of exile to Egypt.
He simply had to collect his identity papers with his mother from his house, abandoned when the fighting intensified in his neighborhood east of the airport, closed since the start of the hostilities.
"The paramilitaries stopped us at each checkpoint on the road to our neighborhood and we had to explain to them that we wanted to go get something from our house," she recalls.
After a long interrogation, the two women were finally allowed to go home, followed by a paramilitary escort. They were greeted there by a group of paramilitaries seated in front of the entrance.
"All our things were used, from the kitchen to the beds", Tahany is moved. "They had even installed a weapon on the balcony of the second floor".
Terrified, the two women rush to find their papers before leaving without asking for their rest.
“We are now on our way to Egypt,” she confides. "We don't know what happened to our house."