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Sudan: war spreads to two new major cities (residents)

Sudan: war spreads to two new major cities (residents)
A Sudanese soldier from the Rapid Support Forces unit which led by Gen. Mohammed   -  
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Hussein Malla/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved.


The war that has been ravaging Sudan for more than four months has spread to two new densely-populated towns: el-Facher, one of the capital cities of Darfur, and al-Foula, capital of West Kordofan, residents told AFP on Friday.

The situation is particularly worrying in al-Facher - where fighting ceased almost two months ago - as many families fleeing looting, rape, bombings and summary executions elsewhere in Darfur (west) have taken refuge there.

"This is the largest gathering of displaced civilians, with 600,000 people taking refuge in al-Facher," Nathaniel Raymond, director of the Humanitarian Research Laboratory at Yale University, told AFP.

Residents told AFP that the violence resumed late on Thursday.

"At nightfall, we heard heavy gunfire coming from the east of the city", explains one of them.

While the war between the army of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo has ravaged Khartoum and driven more than three million of the capital's inhabitants into flight or exile, the conflict is different in Darfur.

There, survivors told AFP of executions based on ethnicity, Arab militias allied to the RSF slaughtering civilians simply because they were not Arabs, and columns of families fleeing dozens of kilometers away, to neighboring Chad for the luckiest, or elsewhere in Darfur, now on the verge of flaring up everywhere.

War had already wreaked havoc in this vast region in 2003, and the International Criminal Court (ICC), which spoke of genocide at the time, warned against history repeating itself.

Further east, 800 km from Khartoum, al-Foula, the capital of West Kordofan, hitherto spared, has also been won over by fighting.

"The FSR are clashing with the army and police, and in their exchange of fire, public buildings have been set on fire", reports one resident.

"Stores have been looted and there are deaths on both sides, but no one can access the bodies in the chaos", agrees another.

Since April 15, only a very underestimated death toll has been recorded: 3,900, according to the NGO ACLED. And four million people have had to flee their homes.

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