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Sudan: in Khartoum, deadly battle for the police headquarters

Sudan: in Khartoum, deadly battle for the police headquarters
Smoke rises over Khartoum, Sudan, 23 June 2023   -  
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The Sudanese army finds itself in difficulty on several fronts on Monday: in Khartoum, the paramilitaries have stolen the police headquarters and its arsenal from it and in the south which borders Ethiopia, a rebel group is opening a new front against it.

Sunday evening, after two and a half months of war against the army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (FSR) announced in a press release a "victory in the battle for the police headquarters ".

And Monday morning, residents of Kurmuk, on the border with Ethiopia, reported to AFP that a rebel group launched an attack against the army. This same group had already opened a new front on Thursday in South Kordofan, bordering South Sudan, already forcing the army to respond on different fronts, all in the south.

However, deciphers for AFP a former army officer on condition of anonymity, the capture of the police headquarters – on the southern edge of the capital – radically changes this situation. "We have total control of this HQ (...) and we have seized a large number of vehicles, weapons and ammunition", affirm the FSR, listing the seizure of dozens of pick-ups, armored vehicles and tanks.

This hold, if it is not reversed, "will have a significant impact on the battle of Khartoum" , assures the officer because it "guarantees control of the southern entrance to the capital" to the FSR.

The presence of the paramilitaries in this area also constitutes "a serious threat to the HQ of the mechanized armored corps", one of the great assets of the army in the south of Khartoum, continues the former officer.

And even if the FSR were to lose this strategic position, the videos broadcast by their propaganda show their men seizing large stocks of arms and ammunition - the assurance of being able to continue the war of attrition launched on April 15.

Since that date, the paramilitaries have never announced their losses. But according to a source within the army, they lost "more than 400 men" in the capture of this HQ.

The NGO Acled lists more than 2,800 dead in the war in Sudan, a figure largely underestimated because none of the belligerents has made their losses public and many bodies still litter the streets of Khartoum or Darfur, a vast region of the western border of Chad, where the clashes are the most violent.

Still on Sunday, "14 civilians, including two children were killed" near the police headquarters, reports a network of activists who are trying to organize relief and evacuations to the few hospitals still in operation in the area.

In addition, "217 wounded arrived, including 72 in critical condition and 147 were operated on" after being hit by "stray bullets, air raids or crossfire from rockets" in the heart of residential neighborhoods, continues this committee. of activists.

Since the start of the war, two-thirds of health establishments have been out of service: some have been bombed, others are occupied by belligerents or at the heart of the fighting. Those that have remained open have to deal with almost dry medicine reserves , long water and electricity cuts and caregivers who have fled or been swept away by the war.

Fighting also continues in Nyala, capital of South Darfur, where at least 12 civilians were killed on Sunday, according to a doctor who again warned that many wounded and dead were not recorded as the violence of the fighting prevented trips.

During the night, residents of Nyala reported intense artillery fire. "Rockets are falling on the houses of civilians ," one of them told AFP.

Every day, new displaced people flee the fighting, but also the sexual violence and looting that have become legion.

In all, more than 2.5 million people have left their homes. More than half a million have crossed borders, mostly into Egypt to the north and Chad to the west, according to the UN.

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