Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
The Sudanese military blocked civilians from entering the town of Wad Madani, which experienced fighter jet flyovers and explosions on Friday, according to a Reuters news report.
The conflict between the Sudanese army led by General Al Burhan and Rapid Support Forces led by General Dagalo has morphed into a full-blown civil war over the course of the eight months. Fighting has not spared even the capital, Kartoum. This week, the outskirts of Wad Madani, a town that had previously been untouched by the fighting has come under fire. A report by AFP indicates, Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese, seeking refuge in the city, had gathered there, but now find themselves in danger.
Since the conflict erupted on April 15 between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Wad Madani, the capital of al-Jazira state located 180 kilometers south of Khartoum, has become a haven for approximately half a million displaced individuals escaping the strife in the capital, according to UN statistics.
However, in recent months, clashes have progressively expanded in the area, with combatants establishing checkpoints along the villages between Khartoum and Wad Madani.
On social media, displaced individuals from Khartoum shared images of billowing black smoke, expressing concerns about having to flee the conflict once again. On Friday, an AFP correspondent noted explosions emanating from the northern outskirts of the town.
Stores and businesses hastily shut down on Friday, while families took to the streets in search of transportation to move farther south, once again seeking refuge, as per AFP’s correspondent.
In a statement on Friday, the RSF declared its intention to “assure the dear citizens” of Al-Jazeera and Wad Madani that their forces aimed to “destroy the strongholds” of the army only and did not seek to harm civilians.
Human rights groups have accused both sides of attacking civilians throughout this conflict.
Earlier this month, hopeful signs emerged when regional heads of state in the Horn of Africa gathered in Djibouti to seek a ceasefire in Sudan. It was said army chief General al-Burhane and his nemesis General Daglo, leader of the formidable RSF paramilitaries would finally meet face to face to seek a negotiated settlement.
Eight months of conflict in Sudan has resulted in tens of thousands of fatalities, a figure likely significantly underestimated, given the relative isolation of the country. The Horn of Africa continues to experience security challenges, as countries in the region grapple with a myriad of conflicts and tensions made worse by external meddling in this highly strategic region of Africa.