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Deadly Airstrikes in Sudan’s Capital

An airstrike in a residential area in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum killed 17 people on Saturday, including five children, according to reports by the country’s health ministry. 

At least 25 homes in the Yarmouk district were destroyed due to the clash between the military, the Sudanese Armed Forces, and a local paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces. Fighting between the groups began in mid-April after months of increasing tensions between military leaders and the RSF. 

More than 3,000 people have died and over 6,000 were wounded according to an interview with Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim on a Saudi-owned television station, Al-Hadath

The airstrike on Saturday hit a poor and densely populated neighborhood and it is not clear whether the attack was committed by warplanes or drones. The military has previously used aircrafts to target RSF troops and the RSF has retaliated in the past by using drones.

Reuters reports that the army increased their air power and attacks on both Friday and Saturday. A top general for the Sudanese Army, Yassir Al-Atta, urged citizens to stay away from RSF-occupied areas in a speech posted on Friday before the attacks. "Because at this point, we will attack them anywhere," he said. "Between us and these rebels are bullets.” 

The United States and Saudi Arabia have announced a 72-hour ceasefire began on Sunday morning following Saturday’s attacks after encouraging both groups to consider. 

This conflict is the result of years of political unrest and mismanagement of the country’s economic resources. Sudan is now facing a humanitarian crisis. One of the recent causes of the conflict began after the two groups worked together to stage a military coup in October of 2021, subsequently removing the prime minister and cabinet as well as suspending the constitution. The following December a new democratic framework was agreed upon by leaders but, leaders were unsure how and where to incorporate the RSF. Negotiations to determine their role in the government stalled and tensions quickly rose, resulting in the current crisis. 

“The parties agreed that during the ceasefire they will refrain from prohibited movements, attacks, use of military aircraft or drones, artillery strikes, reinforcement of positions and resupply of forces, and will refrain from seeking military advantage during the ceasefire,” the joint statement said.

Both the United States and Saudi Arabia have been involved in trying to mediate rising tensions within the country. Much of their efforts are done in hopes of preventing a civil war. The ceasefire gives the countries an opportunity to facilitate long-term peace agreements. Forging a path forward is the next step for the Sudanese government. Officials’ attempts to ease the fighting between the groups have been futile but with international aid, they are hopeful the ceasefire will provide desirable results. 

“We urge both parties to commit seriously to facilitating humanitarian assistance and the restoration of essential services desperately needed by the Sudanese people,” the joint statement said. 

The RSF stated on social media fully committed “to serve the purposes of the humanitarian truce, especially facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians, visiting public facilities such as hospitals, water and electricity stations in order to repair and restart them and open safe passages for citizens.”

The RSF evolved from Janjaweed militias following the conflict in the northeast African nation in the 2000s. The militia continued to grow and became RSF in 2013, primarily used as border patrol guards. It was later recognized as an independent security force in 2017. 

An estimated 100,000 members are commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council. 

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