Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Residents of Omdurman, the twin city of Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, have had to live through massive aerial bombardments and heavy fighting over the past three days as the conflict between the army and a paramilitary force intensifies as it approaches its fifth month.

A call went out on social media on Tuesday to see if anyone knew any gravediggers.

News had spread that the bodies were mounting up as the bombs from above, as well as shrapnel and bullets from ground level, were hitting civilians.

It is hard to find individual plots for people as the fighting is blocking access to the main graveyards, so many of those who died were put in a mass grave.

A source at the only functioning hospital in Omdurman said that 33 civilians have been killed since Monday when the conflict seemed to enter a new phase.

Some reports say this is the most intense fighting since the beginning of the war in April.

The army, which is trying to dislodge the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) from parts of Omdurman, was flying over bombers as well as shelling the city from the ground.

They are trying to gain control of a key bridge across the Nile, linking Omdurman and Khartoum North, that the RSF uses.

The sound of gunfire has become everyday background noise in the city, but the constant boom of the explosives, shaking people and buildings, was a new, more frightening noise for many.

During the day, smoke can be seen rising from buildings across the city. At night, the shells overhead light up the skies like malevolent shooting stars.

A heavy artillery attack on west Omdurman on Tuesday night killed two civilians and injured several others. It also led to a fresh wave of evacuations, with a large number of civilians being seen on minibusses, some heading to north Omdurman, where it is a bit safer, and others out of the capital entirely.

Getting out of the country from here is now almost impossible, as many of the borders are shut.

“God have mercy on us. Everyone is running away, even in the rain and in total darkness [due to power cuts]. My mother too wanted to leave, but my brother insisted on waiting for the morning,” said Bakita Hassan, a 44-year-old living in the Ombadah neighbourhood.

RSF positions in Old Omdurman, about 5km (three miles) from where Hassan lives, seem to be the focus of attacks, but clashes between armed men have been going on elsewhere, including close to his home.

The paramilitary force has been using an Ombadah police station as a prison, and the army was trying to hit it. But some of the shells went astray and hit civilians instead.

In another incident, an ice cream seller, who is well known in west Omdurman, was hit in the leg by some shrapnel while she was working. Her leg was broken, but she survived.

She has a pitch in a small market, one of the few that are still supplying people with essentials in Ombadah.

But on Wednesday, the market was nearly empty. For the first time since April, shoppers were unable to find any vegetables or meat. There was nothing there because most of the vendors appear to have fled.

For those of you who are staying put, life is getting increasingly hard.

Luckily, some have some cash savings or can get some from small businesses they run inside the neighbourhoods. But as the banks have all been looted and mobile money payments are not working, many are struggling.

There are still international attempts to get the two sides to talk but it does not feel like army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan or the head of the RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, are ready to negotiate.

Without a ceasefire on the horizon, they appear to be locked into a cycle of offensive and counter-offensive that seems to have no end.

By Admin

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