Drone attack on open market kills at least 43 people in Sudan as rival troops battle

Indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes by both the country’s military and the Rapid Support Forces are not uncommon in Sudan's war, which has made the Greater Khartoum area a battleground.
Sudanese soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces unit stand on their vehicle during a military-backed rally, in Mayo district, south of Khartoum, Sudan. (File photo | AP)
Sudanese soldiers from the Rapid Support Forces unit stand on their vehicle during a military-backed rally, in Mayo district, south of Khartoum, Sudan. (File photo | AP)

CAIRO: A drone attack Sunday on an open market south of Sudan's capital, Khartoum, killed at least 43 people, activists and a medical group said, as the military and a powerful rival paramilitary group battle for control of the country.

More than 55 others were wounded in the attack in Khartoum’s May neighbourhood, where paramilitary forces battling the military were heavily deployed, the Sudan Doctors' Union said in a statement. The casualties were taken to Bashair University Hospital.

The Resistance Committees, an activist group that helps organize humanitarian assistance, posted footage on social media showing bodies wrapped in white sheets in an open yard at the hospital.

Sudan has been rocked by violence since mid-April, when tensions between the country’s military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, burst into open fighting.

The RSF blamed the military's air force for Sunday's attack, though it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim. The military, meanwhile, said Sunday afternoon that it didn't target civilians, describing the RSF accusations as “false and misleading claims.”

Indiscriminate shelling and airstrikes by both factions are not uncommon in Sudan's war, which has made the Greater Khartoum area a battleground.

The conflict has since spread to several parts of the country. In the Greater Khartoum area, which includes the cities of Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri, RSF troops have commandeered civilian homes and turned them into operational bases. The military responded by bombing these residential areas, rights groups and activists say.

In the western Darfur region, the scene of a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the United Nations.

Fierce clashes ensued over the weekend in al-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur province, following an attack on a military facility by the RSF, local media reported.

Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, expressed concerns Sunday about the clashes in al-Fasher. Writing on X, formerly known as Twitter, the U.N. official called for warring factions to stop fighting “so that humanitarians can bring in food, medicine and shelter items to those who need them most.”

The war has killed more than 4,000 people, according to August figures from the United Nations. However, the real toll is almost certainly much higher, doctors and activists say.

The number of internally displaced persons has nearly doubled since mid-April to reach at least 7.1 million people, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Another 1.1 million are refugees in neighbouring countries, according to figures released last week by the International Organization for Migration.

Chad received about 465,000 refugees, mostly from West Darfur province where the RSF and its Arab militias launched scorched-earth attacks on non-Arab tribes in the provincial capital of Geneina and its surrounding areas, according to the U.N. and rights groups.

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