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Sudan: 27 reported killed in shelling of market in poor area south of Khartoum

Tanks believed to have attacked area residents say is not close to any military target

Twenty-seven people have been killed and 106 injured after a market in a poor area south of Khartoum was shelled, according to local residents.

Six tank shells were fired from al-Shajara, one of the few areas the army controls in the Sudanese capital, towards the neighbourhood of Mayo, residents said.

Sources said the death toll could rise significantly because many of the injured were unable to get to hospitals for treatment.

Mayo is populated mostly by people who have not been able to afford to leave Khartoum since fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on 15 April. It is not known to be near any military target in the capital, which is 90% controlled by the RSF.

“Medical staff are under pressure to deal with so many cases with limited staff,” the Sudanese Doctors Trade Union said. “We call all doctors and medical cadres who are nearby to come to the hospital so they can help as much as they can.”

Abdelmotal Saboon, a resident in the area and volunteer at the nearby al-Bashair hospital, said: “Really it’s been the worst day I saw since the beginning of the war, scenes I will always remember the women and children and men in awful shape. I do not know the reason for using the heavy artillery, apart from killing innocent people.”

Mohamed Zain, another resident of Mayo, said: “Nobody can afford to leave here, all our relatives are here, they cannot flee.”

The incident came a day after Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the Sudanese army and the de-facto leader of the country, announced he would be pulling out of US and Saudi-brokered ceasefire talks, accusing the RSF of failing to honour its commitments.

In front of army soldiers at the military headquarters, Burhan said they would use deadly force against the enemy.

“We are carrying this battle on behalf of the Sudanese people, we are seeing what happened to them. We do not want to use deadly force … but if the enemy does not comply and respond we will be obliged to use it. Do not listen to the media, it’s fake, the army is one and the army is all over Sudan … all the Sudanese people are soldiers, they are all standing with you in this battle.”

US and Saudi mediators have blamed both sides for violating a truce that was supposed to enable secure corridors for delivering aid to an increasingly needy population.

Different parts of Khartoum’s neighbouring city of Omdurman have been hit by heavy artillery since Wednesday, with military sources saying they are targeting RSF forces stationed at the national TV station there and a strategic building that was taken by the RSF on Wednesday.

More than 1.2 million people had been displaced internally by the fighting, and an additional 400,000 fled across borders, the UN said on Tuesday. At least 730 have been killed according to official counts though the actual number is likely to be far higher.

Outside Khartoum, clashes have flared in big cities in the western region of Darfur. A regional rights group said at least 50 people had been killed in the past week in the westernmost city of Geneina, where hundreds were previously killed in militia attacks. In the city of Zalingei, the group said a hospital and university were looted and people were being killed “randomly”.

On Thursday the US said it would levy sanctions against people “who are perpetuating the violence” in Sudan.

“The scope and scale of the bloodshed in Khartoum and Darfur, in particular, is appalling,” the White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said. “The failure of the Sudanese armed forces and Rapid Support Forces to abide by the ceasefire only further deepens our concern that the people of Sudan will once again face a protracted conflict and widespread suffering at the hands of the security forces.”

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