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Clashes in Port Sudan for first time since war began

Clashes in Port Sudan for first time since war began
A protester walks through tear gas fumes in clashes with security forces   -  
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Clashes broke out Monday evening between the Sudanese army and a tribal militia in Port Sudan (east), a city which had until now been spared from the war that has been raging for five months in Sudan, according to witnesses.

There was "an exchange of fire between the army and a militia led by Sheba Darar", a leader of the local Beja tribe, in central Port Sudan, said a witness who resides in this coastal town of the Red Sea.

Another resident reported, on condition of anonymity, a "return to calm" shortly after, with "army soldiers deployed in the area" following the removal of "checkpoints set up place by the militias.

Since April 15, the war between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has been mainly concentrated in Khartoum, the capital, and in the western region of Darfur.

Port Sudan, which is home to the country's only still operational airport and where the UN has established its logistics center, had until then been spared the fighting which left thousands dead and millions displaced.

Since the end of August, this city has served as a new base for the army chief after the army headquarters in Khartoum was besieged by the RSF.

Since Port Sudan, General Burhane has made six trips abroad in what analysts see as a diplomatic effort to restore his image in the event of negotiations to end the conflict with Daglo.

- Artillery fire" -

Sheba Darar, chief of the Beja, supported the army at the start of the war before rebelling against the government representatives who were moving into eastern Sudan. However, he has not announced any alliance with the paramilitaries who form the RSF.

Other tribes in eastern Sudan have pledged their support for the army.

The conflict has claimed almost 7,500 lives, according to a conservative estimate by the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

Fighting has intensified in Khartoum since Saturday, setting fire to several key buildings in the center of the capital.

Witnesses in Omdourman, a suburb northwest of Khartoum, reported that the army had attacked paramilitary bases with "artillery fire".

For the third day running, the RSF attacked army headquarters in the center of the capital, while the army responded with air strikes and drones, according to the same sources.

Both sides accused each other of destroying the Justice Ministry and the Greater Nile Petroleum Oil Company Tower, a conical, glass-fronted building in Khartoum.

The RSF said the buildings were destroyed by "targeted attacks" by the air force, while a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, allied with General Burhane, on Monday described the fires as part of 'a "diabolical and systematic campaign by the rebel militia aimed at destroying the capital".

The warring parties have been accused by human rights activists and international organizations of targeting infrastructure and failing to protect civilians.

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