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[News] Sudan conflict: Residents flee capital Khartoum as fighting continues


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Thousands of civilians have fled Sudan's capital and foreign nations are trying to evacuate their citizens, amid a fifth day of fierce fighting.

Witnesses reported people leaving Khartoum in cars and on foot on Wednesday morning, as gunfire and deafening explosions rocked the city.

Meanwhile, officials in Japan and Tanzania say they are considering missions to evacuate their citizens.

The exodus follows Tuesday's collapsed ceasefire between the warring factions.

The Sudanese military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) had agreed a 24-hour humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday, but the truce collapsed within minutes of its proposed launch at 18:00 local time (16:00 GMT).

A new ceasefire with the same timing was put forward by the RSF on Wednesday. The army said it would abide by the truce - but gunfire can still be heard across the capital.

Smoke can be seen over the area of the army headquarters in the centre of the city, where much of the fighting between rival military factions is centred.

Mohammed Alamin, a journalist based in Khartoum, told BBC Focus on Africa radio that the gunfire hadn't stopped, despite the supposed ceasefire.

"It's really horrible - these warring parties are firing randomly everywhere," he said. "I saw, myself, hundreds of people going outside Khartoum, rushing to travel to the neighbouring states."

Some civilians did not know what was happening - while others directed their anger at both sides.

"Basically the people think that this war is against them," Mr Alamin said. "This is what the people told me in the streets."

He also said that one problem with implementing the ceasefire might be the fragmented forces in the city.

"There is a kind of a disconnection between these troops - they are fighting in different areas, in different places with less communication...," he said.

The fighting at the moment mostly involves shelling, not heavy air bombardments.

Civilians began to flee the capital early on Wednesday morning after fighting resumed and Khartoum was enveloped in thick black smoke following explosions near the army headquarters.

Witnesses reported heavily armed RSF fighters patrolling the city on pick-up trucks, while fighter jets loyal to the military conducted strikes on targets believed to be held by the paramilitary forces.

A shortage of fuel and a lack of public transport has seen many of those fleeing forced to do so on foot, with some seeking to get passage to central and western Sudan - where their families live - on flatbed trucks.

One local fleeing the capital told the BBC that the RSF had set up checkpoints on roads around the city and some of its fighters had robbed him, stealing his phone and some money.

Robberies have also been reported in areas of the capital itself. On Tuesday, residents of the Khartoum 2 area told the BBC that the RSF militia had been going house-to-house in the neighbourhood demanding water and food.

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As the fighting intensifies, a number of nations say they have started preparations to evacuate their citizens from the country.

Japan said its Self Defence Forces were considering how to evacuate some 60 Japanese citizens from Sudan, with a military plane placed on standby.

Tanzania's Foreign Affairs Minister Stergomena Tax told parliament that his government was also evaluating whether it was possible to evacuate 210 of its citizens.

However, the US embassy in Khartoum said "the uncertain security situation" in the capital meant there were no plans for a "US government-coordinated evacuation".

And the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies told the BBC that it was advising locals calling it for help to stay put and avoid putting themselves in the line of fire.

"Whoever calls, we tell them the truth: 'Look, right now it's a challenge to get you out, and it's better and safer to stay where you are,'" Farid Abdulkadir, the organisation's chief in Sudan, told Focus on Africa.

The death toll caused by the fighting is unclear, but the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) said on Tuesday that at least 174 civilians had been killed in the violence.


Link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65325382

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