Sudan: clashes reported in Port Sudan

Witnesses reported that clashes broke out Monday night between the Sudanese army and a tribal militia in Port Sudan (east). The city had so far been spared the war that has been raging for five months in Sudan. It is home to the country's only operational airport and the United Nations has established its logistics centre there.

Port Sudan (Sudan): General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese army, arrives at the city's military airport on August 27, 2023. REUTERS - IBRAHIM MOHAMMED ISHAK

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There was "an exchange of fire between the army and a militia led by Sheba Darar," a leader of the local Beja tribe in central Port Sudan, said a witness who resides in the Red Sea coastal city. Another resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, reported a "return to calm" shortly after, with "army soldiers deployed in the area" following the removal of "checkpoints set up by militias".

Since 15 April, the war between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has been mainly concentrated in Khartoum, the capital, and the western region of Darfur.

Port Sudan, home to the country's only remaining operational airport and where the UN has established its logistics centre, had previously been spared the fighting that has left thousands dead and millions displaced.

Since the end of August, this city has served as a new base for the army chief after the army headquarters in Khartoum was besieged by the RSF. From Port Sudan, General Burhane made six trips abroad as part of what analysts see as a diplomatic effort to restore his image in the event of negotiations to end the conflict with Daglo.

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Sheba Darar, the leader of the Beja, supported the army at the beginning of the war before rebelling against government officials who were moving into eastern Sudan. However, he did not announce an alliance with the paramilitaries who form the RSF.

The conflict has claimed nearly 7,500 lives, according to a conservative estimate by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (Acled). Fighting has intensified in Khartoum since Saturday, causing fires in several key buildings in the center of the capital.

(with AFP)

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