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Air strikes, artillery, killings rage in Darfur as aid stalls

KHARTOUM: Artillery fire, air strikes and gun battles rocked Sudan’s capital on Saturday, witnesses told AFP, as the UN urged a stop to “wanton killings” that have left decomposing bodies in Darfur.

While fighting rages, relief efforts have stalled after more than two months of fighting between rival generals.

Houses in Khartoum shook from the fighting that continued unabated, residents said, with entire families sheltering in place, running low on vital supplies in the baking summer heat.

The United Nations says nearly 1.5 million people have fled the capital since violence erupted in mid-April, pitting the regular army against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Entire districts of Khartoum no longer have running water, and those who remain in the city have had no electricity at all since Thursday, several residents told AFP.

The battle for power between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, has killed more than 2,000 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

The deadliest violence has raged in Darfur, a vast western region on the border with Chad where the UN has warned of possible crimes against humanity and said the conflict has taken an “ethnic dimension”.

In the South Darfur state capital Nyala, residents said they had been caught in the crossfire. They reported battles, shelling and artillery strikes. “Civilians were killed, and wounded are arriving at the hospital,” a medic told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The UN on Saturday urged “immediate action” to stop killings of people fleeing El Geneina, the West Darfur state capital, by Arab militias aided by the paramilitaries. The Geneva-based UN rights office said witnesses had given “corroborating accounts” of militias targeting men from the non-Arab Masalit people.

It said all but two of the 16 people it interviewed testified they had witnessed “summary executions” and the targeting of civilians on the road from El Geneina to the border between June 15 and 16.

“All those interviewed also spoke of seeing dead bodies scattered along the road — and the stench of decomposition,” the UN said.

Two-thirds of health facilities in the main battlegrounds remain out of service, according to the Sudanese doctors´ union. The few hospitals still operating are extremely low on medical supplies and struggling to obtain fuel to power generators.

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