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Hundreds flee paramilitary attack in Sudan's Darfur — witnesses

By AFP - Aug 13,2023 - Last updated at Aug 13,2023

People ride with furniture and other items atop a truck moving along a road from Khartoum to Wad Madani at the locality of Kamlin, about 80 kilometres southeast of Khartoum, on June 22 (AFP photo)

WAD MADANI, Sudan — Attacks by Sudanese paramilitaries on Sunday sent hundreds of civilians fleeing a major city in Darfur, residents told AFP as battles against the regular army intensify in the restive western region.

Darfur as well as Sudan's capital Khartoum have borne the brunt of nearly four months of fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by rival generals vying for power.

One resident told AFP hundreds of people have been displaced from Nyala, Sudan's second largest city and capital of South Darfur state, where "rockets are falling on houses".

The war erupted in Khartoum on April 15 between the forces of army chief Abdel Fattah Al Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

At least 3,900 people have been killed nationwide, according to a conservative estimate by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

More than four million people have been uprooted from their homes, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

Witnesses said on Sunday that RSF paramilitaries had attacked Nyala with “dozens of military vehicles” and that “hundreds of residents are fleeing intense artillery fire”.

The vast region of Darfur has a bloody history. It is where Sudan’s former strongman Omar Al Bashir in 2003 unleashed Arab tribal militia in a scorched-earth campaign to quash a non-Arab rebellion against perceived inequalities.

It is a stronghold of the RSF which emerged from the notorious Janjaweed militia that had spearheaded Bashir’s deadly onslaught.

Fighting in the latest conflict has concentrated on El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur state, where the United Nations suspects that crimes against humanity have been committed.

Several sources allege there have been massacres of civilians and ethnically motivated killings in Darfur, attributed to paramilitary forces and allied Arab militias.

Researchers at Yale University in the United States say that at least 27 villages in Darfur have been razed to the ground by the RSF and its allies since April.

“The ferocity and volume of the violence at least equals the genocide in 2003-2004,” Nathaniel Raymond of the Humanitarian Research Lab at the Yale School of Public Health told AFP.

“The RSF and Arab allied militias are moving methodically and quickly without impediment. They chose the time and place and attack to liquidate civilian communities,” he said.

Fighting was also reported on Sunday in Khartoum’s battle-scarred sister city of Omdurman just across the Nile, where one resident reported “artillery fire”.

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