In Sudan’s escalating conflict people get used to seeing corpses in streets – as dogs ‘fight over limbs’

Airstrikes have been pummelling Khartoum in the Sudanese army’s aerial war against paramilitary forces who have terrorised and occupied residential areas for nearly five months.

At the weekend, an airstrike that hit a market in the capital left at least 43 people dead and 60 injured.

The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) blamed the military’s air force for Sunday’s attack, though it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim.

The military said it didn’t target civilians, describing the RSF accusations as “false and misleading claims”.

Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al Burhan. Pic: AP

RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo

A Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) medic at Khartoum’s Bashair Teaching Hospital, which treated the men, women and children wounded by the attack, said they received more people dead on arrival than any other incident in recent months.

Loretta Charles, who has been working there since the end of June, told Sky News: “The patients that we received were many more women and children in terms of percentage than we see on a day-to-day basis.

“Consistent with the time of day that the explosion happened and a very busy time at the market.”

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Much of Khartoum has descended into complete chaos since the war broke out in mid-April. The city has become a site of active territorial clashes between the military and RSF, but also heightened criminal violence in the wake of mass prison escapes.

And fighting has intensified in Khartoum since August.

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED) has recorded over 470 incidents of political violence and more than 2,280 fatalities in the city from 5 August to 1 September alone.

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Sudan: ‘Horrific cases of rape’

“On a daily basis we are receiving victims of gunshot wounds, stabbings, blast injuries and road and traffic accidents,” says Ms Charles.

“We have certainly seen an increase in the number of cases we have seen in the last few weeks.”

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Inside Sudan where battles trap millions

One resident who lives near the site of Sunday’s deadly airstrike has called the city “a haunted house”, and says people are getting used to seeing corpses.

“You can see dead bodies in the markets,” says Khalid Muka. “And people just treading around them.”

He says he sees dogs fighting over limbs and other human body parts every day.

Mr Muka worked as a volunteer collecting corpses for burial and has witnessed deaths from both military airstrikes and RSF artillery. He stopped the volunteer work for his safety and is currently guarding his home after evacuating his family.

His neighbourhood is currently occupied by the RSF and targeted by military airstrikes. He describes a painful process of daily navigation around RSF combatants who have moved into nearby houses.

“Civilians have no choice but to interact with the RSF – particularly in their controlling areas – if they would like to stay alive,” he says.

“We know how much damage and violence they have inflicted and civilians have to act smartly around them to avoid problems and not collaborate with them. Some civilians have unfortunately chosen to work with them – seeking money, power and validation to steal.”

Khartoum is not the only besieged city in Sudan.

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Sudan: Mass graves haunt residents

Read more:
Mass graves in West Darfur’s capital haunt residents
Bodies of 87 people found in mass grave
Hundreds of trapped children saved from orphanage

Residents of state capitals El-Geneina in West Darfur, Nyala in South Darfur, al Fashir in North Darfur and Kadugli in South Kordofan have massively suffered in the crossfire of clashes between the army and RSF – as well as aligned militias and the involvement of rebel factions.

These areas of historic conflict have been reignited by the current power vacuum and their vulnerable populations have been pushed to the edge by this wave of explosive armed violence.

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Sudan: Pregnant woman killed

The number of displaced people in Sudan has now hit a record high. According to UN agency the International Organisation for Migration, the country now hosts 7.1 million internally displaced people.

It is the largest displaced population on Earth, followed by Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ukraine.

At least an additional million people have fled the country entirely. Many have left for Egypt, Chad, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Central African Republic.