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Khartoum: army chief purges RSF chief amid growing crisis

On Friday, Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and its neighboring city Bahri witnessed another round of air strikes, marking the fifth week of the violent conflict between the national army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). This escalation continues to worsen an already grave humanitarian crisis for the citizens caught in the crossfire or forced into displacement.

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Widespread looting by armed groups and desperate civilians is further exacerbatinges the hardship for Khartoum’s inhabitants. Witnesses have reported intense ground conflict between the military and RSF, pushing an estimated 843,000 people to flee within Sudan, while another 250,000 are seeking refuge in neighboring countries, according to the United Nations refugee agency.

In a significant political move, Army Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan ousted RSF Chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, commonly known as Hemedti, from his role as deputy on the ruling Sovereign Council on Friday.

Al-Burhan and Hemedti had jointly controlled the council since deposing President Omar al-Bashir in 2019, but their alliance fractured amidst a 2021 coup. With no progress in the Saudi and U.S.-mediated ceasefire talks, Sudan’s envoy to the Arab League meeting in Jeddah accused the RSF of violations including looting and rape.

South Darfur’s capital, Nyala, also witnessed renewed violence, resulting in 27 fatalities. It was noted that the RSF, who have integrated into residential districts of Khartoum, Bahri, and Omdurman, are drawing continuous air strikes from the military.

Meanwhile, Malik Agar, a rebel group leader, was appointed as al-Burhan’s new deputy. Promotions also came for other military officers within the council.

The dire humanitarian situation is compounded by rampant looting, with dwindling supplies of food, cash, and necessities fuelling the theft. “The criminals are attacking our houses and taking everything we own,” said a government employee in Khartoum. The World Health Organization estimates the conflict has resulted in 705 deaths and over 5,000 injuries thus far.

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