Fri. Sep 22nd, 2023

CIVIL WAR Paramilitaries have conquered the police headquarters in the capital Khartoum, possibly marking a turning point in the conflict.

On Monday, the Sudanese army found itself in trouble on several fronts: in Khartoum, paramilitaries seized the police HQ and its arsenal, and in the south bordering Ethiopia, a rebel group opened a new front against it. This is an opportunity to take stock of the civil war that has been raging in Sudan for over two months now.

The capture of the police headquarters
On Sunday evening, after two and a half months of war against the army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, the paramilitaries of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced in a communiqué a “victory in the battle for the police headquarters”. However, according to a former army officer speaking on condition of anonymity, the capture of the police HQ – on the southern edge of the capital – radically changed the situation.

“We are in total control of this HQ (…) and we have seized a large number of vehicles, weapons and ammunition”, say the FSR, listing the dozens of pick-ups, armoured vehicles and tanks taken. The capture of the police HQ, if not reversed, “will have a major impact on the battle for Khartoum”, assures the officer, as it “guarantees control of the southern entrance to the capital” to the RSF. The presence of paramilitaries in this area also constitutes “a serious threat to the headquarters of the mechanized armored corps”, one of the army’s major assets in southern Khartoum, continues the former officer.

Even if the RSF were to lose the police HQ, the videos disseminated by their propaganda show their men seizing large stocks of weapons and ammunition – the assurance that they will be able to continue the war of attrition launched on April 15 for a long time to come.

Other fronts
On Monday morning, residents of Kurmuk, on the border with Ethiopia, reported that a rebel group had launched an attack against the army. The same group had already opened a new front on Thursday in South Kordofan, bordering South Sudan, forcing the army to respond on different fronts, all in the south.

Fighting is also continuing in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur, where at least 12 civilians were killed on Sunday, according to a doctor who warned that the violence of the fighting was preventing people from moving around, and that many of the dead and wounded had not yet been registered. During the night, Nyala residents reported intense artillery fire. “Rockets are falling on civilian houses”, reported one of them.

The human toll

On Sunday, “14 civilians, including two children, were killed” on the outskirts of the police HQ, reports a network of activists trying to organize rescue and evacuation operations to the few hospitals still operating in the area. In addition, “217 wounded have arrived, including 72 in critical condition, and 147 have undergone surgery” after being hit by “stray bullets, air raids or rocket crossfire” in the heart of residential neighborhoods, continues this committee of activists.

Since April 15, the paramilitary forces have never announced their losses. But according to a source within the army, they lost “more than 400 men” in the capture of this HQ. The NGO Acled has counted more than 2,800 deaths in the war in Sudan, a figure that is largely underestimated as none of the belligerents has made their losses public, and many bodies still litter the streets of Khartoum or Darfur, the vast region in the west bordering Chad, where the clashes are at their most violent. Since the start of the war, two-thirds of health facilities are out of action: some have been bombed, others are occupied by belligerents or are at the heart of the fighting.

Every day, new displaced people flee the fighting, but also the sexual violence and looting that have become legion. In all, more than 2.5 million people have left their homes. More than half a million have crossed borders, mainly to Egypt in the north and Chad in the west, according to the UN.

By admin