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Sudan’s military factions at war with each other leave civilians in fear as death toll nears 100

Americans told to stay off Sudan’s roads continued as rival factions of the country’s own armed forces battling for control East African nation of Monday. The vicious power struggle – with thousands of heavily armed forces clashing on the streets of the capital and other cities since Saturday – was blamed for nearly 100 deaths by Monday morning.

Airstrikes and shelling were causing power cuts and internet outages, blocking transport and forcing thousands of civilians to huddle in their homes as a pair of powerful generals plunged the country into chaos.

Both factions are led by military commanders who used to be allies. In 2021, General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, head of the country’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), united launch a coup, seize power on the country and derail Sudan The fragile march towards democracy,

Fighting continues in Sudan
Smoke rises as clashes continue in the Sudanese capital Khartoum between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF) on April 16, 2023.

Mahmoud Hajaj/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Over the past several months, they have turned against each other, and over the weekend their animosity escalated into open warfare between the armed forces and the paramilitary RSF, which itself boasts an estimated 100,000 personnel.

American tourist Lakshmi Partha-Sarathy said she “woke up to the sound of gunshots and bombs” in the capital city Khartoum several days ago, and has been stuck there since the fighting shut down air travel.

Using his own drone, Partha-Sarathy photographed smoke rising from Khartoum’s now closed international airport.

“I don’t think anyone expected this to happen,” said the 32-year-old American software engineer and part-time video producer.

Videos on social media showed smoke billowing from a passenger plane, which allegedly led to the death.

Another video showed people shivering on the floor of an airport terminal, trying to escape fighting outside.

At the heart of the dispute is the breakdown of a power-sharing agreement signed by the two commanders in 2021 after they united to topple Sudan’s civilian government. Dagalo wants his RSF to be integrated into the country’s military within a decade, but al-Burhan wants the assimilation to happen in just two or three years.

Sudanese general blames politicians for military coup in Sudan
President of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan attends a military graduation ceremony of special forces in Khartoum, Sudan, September 22, 2021.

Mahmoud Hajaj/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Amid the fog of war, both factions claim control of vital military installations across the country, but there was no sign on Monday that the situation was any closer to calm, despite growing calls from around the world for a ceasefire.

“The bullets and shelling are everywhere,” Awadeya Mahmoud Koko, who leads a labor union in Sudan’s food industry, told The Associated Press from his home in Khartoum. She said a shell hit one of her neighbors’ houses on Sunday, killing several people, but given the fighting in their neighborhood, they “couldn’t take them to the hospital or bury them.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “The people in Sudan want the military back in the barracks.” “They want democracy.”

The United Nations has also called for an immediate ceasefire. The world body suspended its humanitarian food aid program in Sudan after three staffers were killed shortly after the fighting began.

As generals fight for control, Sudan’s civilians suffer the most. Human rights organizations have warned that people are running out of food and water after only three days of fighting, with no end in sight.

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