Sudan’s warring military factions clashed by air and on the ground in the country’s capital on Tuesday, as increased violence and spreading lawlessness added to the misery of residents already struggling with limited food and medicine.
Fighting between the army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, now in its eighth week, has killed hundreds of civilians, and driven 400,000 across borders and more than 1.2 million out of the capital and other cities.
Saudi Arabia and the United States had brokered talks that had led to imperfectly-observed ceasefires with the aim of providing humanitarian assistance. But talks collapsed last week and while delegations remain in Jeddah no direct talks have been announced.
The fighting has inflicting heavy damage on the capital where the remaining residents are at the mercy of battles, air strikes and looting.
Artillery and air strikes continued overnight, with residents in southern and eastern Khartoum and northern Bahri reporting hearing sounds of artillery and gun clashes on Tuesday morning.
Overnight, the two forces clashed in the streets of the city of Omdurman, around the army’s key Engineers Corps base. The army, which tends to prefer air strikes to ground fighting was able to maintain its positions around the base but could not push back the RSF, which controls most of the rest of the city.
“Our neighborhood has become a war zone. There are fierce clashes and strikes all around us because our house is next to the Engineers’ Corps,” said 45-year-old Jawahir Mohamed.
“We are scared of dying but we are also scared of leaving our house and being burgled,” she added.
Looters, some of whom Khartoum residents and neighborhood committees say belong to the RSF, have pillaged neighborhoods across the capital, stealing cars, breaking open safes, and occupying homes.
Aid groups have struggled to provide extensive assistance to Khartoum residents, who face electricity and water shortages, as well as dwindling supplies in shops and pharmacies.
Neighborhood-based resistance committees have organized such assistance, but have struggled as fighting has intensified.
“We could not distribute medicines because of the air and artillery bombardment,” said one activist who asked not to be named.
Fighting has expanded beyond Khartoum to the Darfur region to the West. Also hit by fighting is the city of El Obeid, a key route between Khartoum and Darfur.