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Thousands flee 'bodies on the streets' in battle-scarred Khartoum

KHARTOUM, April 20 ----- Thousands of residents fled on Wednesday from Sudan's capital where witnesses reported bodies in the streets and embassies said more than 270 civilians had been killed in battles between the army and paramilitaries, with no end in sight.

"Life in Khartoum is impossible if this war does not stop," said Alawya al-Tayeb, 33, on her way out of the city.

The Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries said they would "fully commit to a complete ceasefire" from 1600 GMT for 24 hours, as did the army.

But gunfire continued in Khartoum from the appointed time and into the night, according to witnesses. It was the second day in a row a proposed humanitarian ceasefire failed to take hold. Foreign diplomats have been attacked, and United Nations emergency relief coordinator Martin Griffiths said the UN had received reports of "sexual violence against aid workers".

Governments started planning to evacuate their citizens. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced he would meet Thursday with the heads of the African Union, the Arab League and regional bloc the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, his spokesman told reporters. The violence erupted on Saturday between forces of the two generals who seized power in a 2021 coup: army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo who commands the RSF.

It followed a bitter dispute between them over the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army -- a key condition for a final deal aimed at restoring Sudan's democratic transition.Heavy gunfire resounded and deafening explosions rattled buildings in Khartoum -- a city of five million people -- as thick black smoke rose from buildings around the army headquarters. RSF fighters atop armored vehicles and pickup trucks laden with weapons swarmed the streets. Fighter jets roared overhead and fired on RSF targets, the witnesses said.

Battles have damaged residential and commercial buildings and civilians sheltering in their homes are becoming increasingly desperate, with dwindling food supplies, power outages, and a lack of running water.



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