- By Mohamed Osman & Matt Murphy
- BBC News, in Khartoum and London
Thousands of civilians have fled the Sudanese capital and foreign countries are trying to evacuate their citizens, as fierce fighting has entered its fifth day.
Witnesses said people left Khartoum by car and on foot Wednesday morning, as gunfire and deafening explosions rocked the city.
Meanwhile, officials in Japan and Tanzania said they were reviewing missions to evacuate their citizens.
The exodus comes after a truce collapsed on Tuesday between the warring factions.
The Sudanese Army and the Paramilitary Rapid Support Force (RSF) agreed to a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday, but the truce collapsed within minutes of being proposed at 18:00: 00 local time (16:00 GMT).
A new ceasefire with the same date was introduced by the RSF on Wednesday. The military said it would abide by the truce – but gunfire could still be heard across the capital.
Smoke can be seen blanketing the army headquarters area in the city center, where much of the fighting between rival military factions is concentrated.
Mohammed Alamin, a journalist based in Khartoum, told BBC radio station Focus on Africa that the gunfire had not stopped, despite the supposed ceasefire.
“It’s really terrible – these warring parties shoot indiscriminately all over the place,” he said. “I myself have seen hundreds of people going outside of Khartoum, flocking to travel to neighboring states.”
Some civilians had no idea what was going on – while others directed their anger at both sides.
“Basically, people think this war is against them,” Mr. Alamin said. “This is what people tell me on the street.”
He also suggested that a problem in implementing the ceasefire could be the fragmentation of forces in the city.
“There is a disconnect between these soldiers – they are fighting in different areas, in different places with less contact…”, he said.
The fighting at this time mainly involved artillery rather than heavy air strikes.
Civilians began fleeing the capital early Wednesday morning after fighting resumed and Khartoum was enveloped by thick black smoke following explosions near military headquarters.
Witnesses said heavily armed RSF fighters patrolled the city in pick-up trucks, while military-loyal fighters carried out raids on targets believed to be by paramilitary forces hold.
Fuel shortages and lack of public transport have forced many to flee on foot, with some trying to reach central and western Sudan – where their families live – on the roads. flat truck.
A local resident fleeing the capital told the BBC that the RSF had set up checkpoints on roads around the city and that some of its fighters had robbed him, taking his phone and some money. his.
Robberies have also been reported in areas of the capital itself. On Tuesday, residents of the Khartoum 2 area told the BBC that the RSF militia had gone door-to-door in the neighborhood demanding water and food.
As fighting intensified, several countries said they had begun preparing to evacuate their citizens from the country.
Japan says its Self-Defense Forces are looking at how to evacuate about 60 Japanese nationals from Sudan, with a military plane put on standby.
Tanzania’s Foreign Minister Stergomena Tax told parliament his government was also assessing whether it was possible to evacuate its 210 citizens.
However, the US embassy in Khartoum said the “uncertain security situation” in the capital meant there was no plan for “coordinated evacuation by the US government”.
And the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told the BBC it was advising locals asking them for help to stay put and avoid putting themselves in flames.
“Whoever calls, we tell them the truth: ‘Look, right now getting you out is a challenge, and it’s better and safer than staying where you are’,” he said. Farid Abdulkadir, the organization’s head in Sudan, told Focus on Africa.
The death toll from the fighting is unclear, but the Central Committee of Doctors of Sudan (CCSD) said on Tuesday that at least 174 civilians were killed in the violence.
In a joint statement issued on Wednesday, the US, EU, UK and 12 other countries said the death toll had reached 270.
However, experts say the actual number could be much higher, with many injured people unable to reach hospitals believed to have been hit by the shells.
Tanzeel Khan – an Indian citizen working in Khartoum – told the BBC that the air strikes in the city were putting civilians’ lives at risk.
“Since this morning, the air strikes in this area have intensified and we don’t know when they will hit our building,” he said. “There are about 15 other people living in the same building who are having the same problem.”
A Russian woman trapped in a Greek Orthodox church in Khartoum says her situation became increasingly desperate, after her group ran out of electricity, food and water.
She told the BBC that “urban electricity [was] cut off at the outset of the war”, but the generator powering the church ran out of fuel.
The Norwegian Refugee Council – a humanitarian group that helps people displaced by conflict – said “virtually all humanitarian work has been paralyzed” in Sudan and unable to provide assistance on ground in such a fierce battle.
“You can’t operate when there’s fighting everywhere, when you’re driving on unsafe roads, when the airport is closed,” the organization’s head Jan Egeland told the BBC.
“I’m talking about humanitarian organizations that have seen their warehouses looted, their facilities invaded, their employees at gunpoint. You know, colleagues have been abused. sex. It’s really bad,” he added.
Additional reporting by Chloe Kim
Sudan: The Basics
- Sudan is located in northeastern Africa and has a history of instability: The army ousted longtime leader Omar al-Bashir in 2019 after mass protests
- It then overthrew a power-sharing government in 2021, bringing two men to power: The head of the army and his deputy, and the head of a paramilitary group called the RSF
- They disagree on how to restore civilian rule to Sudan: The RSF leader claims to represent disadvantaged groups against the country’s elite but his forces are accused of ethnic cleansing
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