At least 20 civilians have been killed in gunfire and fighting in Darfur and in the town of El-Obeid in neighboring North Kordofan, the lawyers’ and doctors’ unions in war-torn Sudan reported on Saturday.
“During exchanges of rocket fire between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), 16 civilians were killed on Friday in Nyala”, capital of South Darfur, said the doctors’ union on the basis of a “first provisional assessment”.
At least one civilian was shot dead there by a sniper, he added.
Four other civilians were killed and 45 people were injured in El-Obeid, a town 350 km south of Khartoum, when shells were fired at and near hospitals, the union said in a statement.
According to the same source, clashes began Friday morning in El-Obeid where a shell fell in the courtyard of the university hospital of the city, while others exploded in the perimeter of three other health establishments.
The army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo entered the war on 15 April.
Since the end of April, the conflict has spread to West Darfur and then to South Darfur, claiming 3,000 lives, according to a largely underestimated toll.
Theater in the 2000s of a civil war, Darfur is the stronghold of the FSR. The fighting has long been concentrated in El-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur where the UN suspects “crimes against humanity”.
Raids on villages
Clashes also continue in Khartoum and are now spreading to its very large belt: on Saturday for the first time, residents reported air force raids on villages in northern al-Jazeera state.
This immense fertile expanse south of Khartoum is home to a large proportion of the 3.3 million displaced persons and refugees from the war.
If the conflict spreads further in this area, these populations would be forced to flee again, NGOs predict, and the humanitarians who were just starting to help them would be forced to redeploy their meager resources elsewhere – which would involve numerous authorizations.
For experts, both sides aim to expand the battlefield. “The RSF have had the advantage in Khartoum since the early days and continue to strengthen it,” notes the International Crisis Group (ICG) research center.
The army launched a major offensive on July 15, in particular on the industrial suburbs of Khartoum-Nord, whose entire neighborhoods were razed by the planes, “but it failed spectacularly”, he continues.
Opposite, the RSF are trying to secure their supply channels for men and weapons by trying to control the road linking Darfur to Khartoum.
Representatives of the belligerents are still in Saudi Arabia for a hypothetical resumption of negotiations for a ceasefire. On Friday evening, Khartoum denied “any report of a near truce”.