Al-Bashir moved out of prison as the allies broke out of prison and fought over the torches

  • A former governor is wanted by an international court for war crimes
  • Al-Bashir was transferred from prison to the military hospital
  • Rival military factions have been fighting each other since April 15th
  • The mass release of a prison that houses Al-Bashir’s allies increases the chaos

DUBAI (Reuters) – Sudan’s army and paramilitary forces clashed on the outskirts of Khartoum on Wednesday, undermining a truce in an 11-day conflict that civilian groups fear will tighten the army’s grip and revive power loyal to a ousted autocrat.

The military said Omar al-Bashir, 79, the former dictator who was overthrown in 2019, was transferred from Khartoum’s Kober Prison to a military hospital, along with at least five of his former officials, before hostilities began on April 15.

Over the weekend, thousands of prisoners were released from jail, including a former minister in Bashir’s government who is likewise wanted on war crimes charges by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Airstrikes and artillery have killed at least 512 people, injured nearly 4,200, destroyed hospitals and limited food distribution in the vast country where a third of the population of 46 million was already dependent on humanitarian aid.

The White House said a second American had died in Sudan.

Foreigners fleeing Khartoum described corpses littering the streets, buildings burning, residential areas turned into battlefields and young men wielding large knives.

“It was horrible,” said Thanassis Pagolatos, 80-year-old Greek owner of the Acropolis Hotel in Khartoum, after arriving in Athens on the lap of his relatives.

“It has been more than 10 days without electricity, without water, and almost five days without food,” he added, describing the shooting and shelling. “Really the people are suffering, the Sudanese people.”

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French evacuee activist and doctoral student Leila Olkebus, 28, was interviewing for her dissertation when fighting broke out nearby. “I felt completely paralyzed,” she said after landing in Paris. “I will continue to have nightmares about this.”

The World Health Organization said only 16% of health facilities were functioning in Khartoum and expected “many deaths” from disease and lack of food, water and medical services including immunization.

The transition plan is disabled

Bashir’s three-decade reign ended with a popular uprising four years ago. He was in prison, with periods in hospital, on Sudanese charges related to the 1989 coup that brought him to power.

“This war, which was sparked by the deposed regime, will lead to the collapse of the country,” said the Sudanese Forces for Freedom and Change, a political grouping leading an internationally backed plan for the transition to civilian rule.

The plan was derailed by the outbreak of fighting between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. Both parties and the FCC missed the April deadline to begin the transition to democracy, largely because of disagreements over integrating security forces.

Civil groups have blamed groups loyal to Bashir for seeking to use the conflict to find a way back to power. The RSF, whose leader, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, rose to power under Bashir but was later ousted, is fiercely opposed to the Islamists who backed the autocratic former president in the military.

In its statement, the committee added that the fighting “will not solve the main issues that the civil and military parties have been trying to resolve through the political process, especially the security and military reforms that will lead … to a unified, professional army.”

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In Khartoum, which with its sister cities is one of the largest metropolitan areas in Africa, there has been a growing sense of lawlessness as looting, looting and gangs are rampant.

exodus

Foreign powers evacuated thousands of citizens and a refugee crisis began to unfold.

More than 10,000 people have crossed into Egypt from Sudan in the past five days, Cairo said, while an estimated 20,000 entered Chad and 16,000 entered South Sudan.

Some of the fiercest fighting on Wednesday was in Omdurman, a city next to Khartoum where the army was fighting RSF reinforcements from other parts of Sudan, a Reuters reporter said. Heavy gunfire and airstrikes were heard in the evening.

The army and the Rapid Support Forces agreed to a three-day truce, which is set to expire late Thursday, following diplomatic pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia. The army has accused its rivals of using the calm to replenish supplies of men and weapons.

International bodies have been pressing for a permanent ceasefire.

“There is of course a real risk of this crisis erupting in the region and some form of internationalization of the conflict,” AU Commissioner for Peace and Security Bankul Adeoye told reporters.

Sudan’s military took over in a coup two years after Bashir’s ouster. Al-Bashir’s whereabouts came into question after a former minister in his government, Ali Haroun, announced that he had left Kober prison with other former officials.

Al-Bashir has been accused by the International Criminal Court in The Hague of genocide, and Haroun has been accused of organizing militias to attack civilians in Darfur in 2003 and 2004. It declined to comment on the situation.

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(Reporting by Mehmet Emin Kaleskan, Omer Berbroglu, and Deniz Uyar in Istanbul, Michelle Nichols in New York, and Tala Ramadan in Dubai). Written by Michael Georgy. Editing by Simon Cameron Moore

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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