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Sudan conflict: Deadly attack hits Khartoum market

September 10, 2023

An airstrike in Sudan's capital has reportedly killed some 40 people amid a war between the army and a paramilitary group. This is the highest death toll from a single incident since the conflict began in April.

Smoke seen behind buildings
Aerial attacks have been intensifying in KhartoumImage: picture alliance / Xinhua News Agency

An airstrike on an open market in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Sunday has left at least 40 civilians dead and dozens wounded, activists and medical workers said.

The attack came as a war between government troops and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) nears the end of its fifth month.

What do we know about the attack?

Each side has blamed the other for the drone attack, which was carried out in an area occupied mainly by the RSF.

Both sides in the conflict have carried out indiscriminate artillery and aerial attacks during the war, with the Greater Khartoum area becoming a major arena for fighting.

Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which runs Bashair University Hospital in southern Khartoum, said on social media network X, formerly Twitter, that the Gorro market was hit at 7:00 a.m. local time (0500 UTC). It said 60 people were injured and 35 already dead, a toll that has risen since the statement was posted.

What is the conflict in Sudan?

Tensions between Sudan's de facto leader, army chief General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and his former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who commands the RSF, erupted into open fighting on April 15, with both sides seeking control of the country.

Although fighting has been focused on the Greater Khartoum area, which includes the cities of Khartoum, Omdurman and Bahri, the western Darfur region, which saw a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s, has also been hit by more ethnic violence.  

Mediation efforts have been launched by several countries, but none has succeeded in putting an end to the fighting.

UN figures from August put the death toll from the conflict at more than 4,000, but doctors and activists say the real number is much higher.

At least 7.1 million are now internally displaced, and another 1.1. million have fled to neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency.

tj/sdi (Reuters, AP, AFP)