Army airstrike kills scores in Khartoum as fighting resumes over key base
A Sudanese Army air strike targeting positions of the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces killed scores of civilians, including women and children, in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday, residents said.
The air strike came as fighting resumed between the RSF and the army over control of a key military base in the city, where the paramilitary made significant inroads in fighting last month.
The Al Shagarah base, home to the headquarters of the army’s Armoured Corps, last month hosted some of the fiercest battles between the army and the RSF since fighting began in mid-April.
Heavy casualties are believed to have been inflicted on both sides in the fighting, killing scores of civilians from nearby residential areas.
The RSF is believed to control more than half of the sprawling complex, leaving army troops besieged in a section facing the Nile. The base has large repair and maintenance hangars, arms depots, shooting ranges and dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles.
Residents used social media to announce the death of loved ones in Sunday’s air strike.
“My beloved wife and the mother of my children Mona, Ismail, Adam and my niece Naglaa Ibrahim and another 34 people, including 12 children and 19 women, have died as a result of an air strike today in Omdurman,” wrote Facebook user Mohammed Ahmed Senteen.
He did not say how he knew of the other 34 fatalities.
Residents and activists said at least 20 people were killed in an air strike on Sunday in southern Khartoum, AFP reported, citing the neighbourhood’s resistance committee, a volunteer group that played a leading role in organising pro-democracy rallies before the war. The organisation now provides assistance to families caught in the crossfire between the army and the RSF.
It was not immediately clear whether the civilians were killed in one or two air strikes. The army had not mentioned the strikes late on Sunday.
The army has previously used air strikes and heavy artillery against the RSF, often causing civilian casualties. An air strike on July 8 killed around 24 civilians.
The RSF, in contrast, controls most of Khartoum, with its light armed and combat seasoned fighters embedded deep in residential districts, using homes they took over as bases.
One resident, Anas Sidahmed, said the sound of heavy artillery and gunfire at the Al Shagarah base shook the city early on Sunday.
“We see columns of smoke rising over the city. The sky is overcast and there is heavy air activity,” he said.
The war in Sudan, a fight for military and political supremacy between two rival generals, has created a massive humanitarian crisis, with more than half its 48 million people now need humanitarian aid and protection, the UN said. Six million people, it warned, were “one step away from famine”.
The war has also forced nearly five million Sudanese to flee their homes. Of these more than one million crossed into neighbouring nations.
Among the displaced are about 2.8 million from Khartoum, according to the International Organisation for Migration. That is more than half the capital’s prewar population of around five million.
Those still in the capital, built around the confluence of the White and Blue Niles, are enduing power and water cuts, scarce health care and skyrocketing food and fuel prices.
Hundreds of homes, mostly belonging to those who left the city, have been looted by RSF fighters.