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Khartoum, Sudan Sees Lull In Fighting On First Day Of Eid

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Windows are broken on the facade of a commercial building along the main al-Sittin (sixty) road in eastern Khartoum on April 21, 2023 amidst ongoing battles between the forces of two rival Sudanese generals. (Photo by – / AFP)

Street fighting between the forces of two rival generals eased in parts of Sudan’s capital Friday, witnesses reported, after repeated calls for an end-of-Ramadan ceasefire to the nearly week-long conflict.

More than 400 people have been killed and thousands wounded since the fighting erupted Saturday between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and is commonly known as Hemeti.

The army announced Friday it had “agreed to a ceasefire for three days” to “enable citizens to celebrate Eid al-Fitr and allow the flow of humanitarian services”, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had called for a day earlier.

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Blinken welcomed both the army’s announcement and an earlier one by the RSF, a powerful force formed from members of the Janjaweed militia involved in years of violence in the western Darfur region.

READ ALSO: US Says Khartoum Still Too Unsafe To Evacuate Embassy

“It is clear, however, that fighting is continuing and there is serious mistrust between the two forces,” Blinken said, urging both sides to “pause the fighting” and “permit full and unimpeded humanitarian access”.

Witnesses in several areas of Khartoum reported a rare lull in the fighting Friday evening, after explosions had rocked the city for the seventh straight day.

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Eid is meant to be spent “with sweets and pastries, with happy children, and people greeting relatives”, resident Sami al-Nour told AFP. Instead, there has been “gunfire and the stench of blood all around us”.

Soldiers and paramilitaries fought fierce street battles in densely populated districts of Khartoum, with witnesses reporting blasts near the army headquarters in the city of five million.

On Friday evening, the army accused the RSF of violating the truce, including by “indiscriminately bombing” the airport and presidential palace.

READ ALSO: Sudan War: Our Embassy Has Neglected Us, Nigerian Students Cry Out

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Two previous ceasefires earlier in the week also failed to take hold.

The World Health Organization said 413 people had been killed and 3,551 wounded in the fighting across Sudan, but the death toll is thought to be higher, with many wounded unable to reach hospitals.

The International Committee of the Red Cross urged “immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access”, stressing this was a “legal obligation under international humanitarian law”.

– ‘Nightmare scenario’ –
Analysts have warned the conflict could affect countries across the region, with the UN saying up to 20,000 people have already fled to neighbouring Chad.

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For the first time since hostilities began, Burhan appeared on television.

For Eid this year, our country is bleeding: destruction, desolation and the sound of bullets have taken precedence over joy,” he said in a pre-recorded message.

We hope that we will come out of this ordeal more united… a single army, a single people… towards a civilian power.”

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said urgent steps were needed to stop a descent into “full-blown civil war”, warning “the nightmare scenario that many feared in Sudan is unfolding”.

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The World Food Programme said the violence could plunge millions more into hunger in a country where 15 million people — one-third of the population — need aid.

READ ALSO: Sudan: Death Toll Passes 100, Aid Suspended

It has suspended its Sudan operations after three WFP workers were killed on Saturday.

On Friday, the UN migration agency said one of its employees died after his vehicle was caught in crossfire.

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Burhan and Daglo’s dispute centred on the planned integration of the RSF into the regular army, a key condition for a deal aimed at restoring Sudan’s democratic transition.

“What’s taking place was inevitable,” said Khartoum resident Ibrahim Awad. “A country ruled by two leaders cannot move forward, there can’t be two armies.”

– ‘They don’t care’ –

Civilians are becoming increasingly desperate, with thousands risking the dangerous streets to flee Khartoum.

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“This is a mere power struggle,” said Abdul Wahid Othman. “They don’t care about poor citizens who have been left without water, electricity…”.

Plans are being made to evacuate foreign nationals, with the United States, South Korea and Japan deploying forces to nearby countries and the European Union weighing a similar move.

READ ALSO: Sudanese Power Struggle Erupts Into Violence

More than two-thirds of hospitals in Khartoum and neighbouring states are now “out of service”, the doctors’ union said. At least four hospitals in North Kordofan state were shelled.

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In El Fasher in Darfur, some 800 kilometres (500 miles) southwest of Khartoum, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said the situation was “catastrophic”.

“There are so many patients that they are being treated on the floor,” said MSF project coordinator Cyrus Paye.

The military toppled autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019 following massive protests against his three decades of iron-fisted rule.

In October 2021, Burhan and Daglo joined forces to oust a civilian government installed after Bashir’s downfall, derailing an internationally backed transition to democracy.

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READ ALSO: Nine Children Died, 50 Injured In Sudan’s War – UNICEF

“With neither Burhan nor Hemeti appearing ready to back down, the situation could get much worse,” the ICG think tank said.

“Even if the army eventually does secure the capital, and Hemeti retreats to Darfur, a civil war could well follow, with potentially destabilising impact in neighbouring Chad, the Central African Republic, Libya and South Sudan.”

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Three Nigerians sentenced To 235 Years In US Prison

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A court in Mississippi, United States of America has sentenced three Nigerians to 235 years in prison.

The jury found all the three personguilty of mail fraud, wire fraud, identity theft, credit card fraud and theft of government property.

Oladimeji Seun Ayelotan, 30, was sentenced to 95 years in prison, while Rasaq Aderoju Raheem, 31, got 115 years jail term.

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READ ALSO: Applicants Decry N640,000 UAE Visa Fee Hike

Also, Femi Alexander Mewase, 45, received 25 years in jail.

They were convicted for running online scams.

They were said to have duped people of tens of millions of dollars.

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Deadly Blaze Kills Even In France

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An apartment building blaze early Thursday killed seven people in the southern French city of Nice and police were investigating the fire as a possible arson, authorities said.

The dead include three children – 5, 7 and 10 years old – and a 17-year-old teenager who tried to escape by jumping from a window, they said.

The apartment was occupied by a family believed to have Comoran origins, the regional prefect Hugues Moutouh said, referring to the southern African island nature.

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Ten people were inside when the fire broke out.

Rescuers were alerted at around 2:30 am (0030 GMT) to the blaze on the seventh floor of the building in the low-income neighbourhood of Les Moulins, known for being a drug-dealing hub, in the west of the city.

READ ALSO: 100-year-old WWII Veteran Returns To Normandy Beach In France To Marry 96-year-old Bride[PHOTOS]

In spite of the substantial resources deployed, “unfortunately seven people died during this fire”, firefighters said.

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Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on social media that the quick arrival of firefighters “probably prevented more deaths”.

Nice prosecutor Damien Martinelli said investigators were looking into a “criminal” cause for the fire.

“In light of the initial evidence, I have opened an investigation into acts of arson leading to death,” he told reporters at the scene.

The authorities said the blaze probably broke out on the building’s second floor and spread to higher floors.

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READ ALSO: Seven Sentenced To Life Imprisonment In S’Africa For B*rning Two Sisters To D@ath Over Alleged Witchcraft

Rescuers said that three people were taken to hospital, one of them with life-threatening injuries.

They said firefighters were confronted by a “raging apartment fire” on the seventh floor of the building. They carried out three aerial ladder rescues and evacuated dozens.

In total, 25 fire engines and 72 firefighters tackled the fire.

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Twenty people were evacuated to a temporary shelter, with Nice Mayor Christian Estrosi saying a crisis unit to help anyone affected by the fire.

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Biden Speaks Of Quitting Presidential Race If…

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US President Joe Biden said he could drop his reelection bid if doctors found he had a medical condition, as a top Democrat on Wednesday urged the 81-year-old to step aside.

Biden’s comments were the first time he has even slightly opened the door to abandoning the White House race, and came as Representative Adam Schiff, a key ally from California, urged Biden to “pass the torch.”

“If I had some medical condition that emerged, if somebody, if the doctors came and said ‘you’ve got this problem, that problem,’” Biden told the Black media outlet BET in an interview taped Tuesday, when asked what could make him rethink.

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Biden however defended his decision to stay on for a rematch with Republican Donald Trump in November, and explained why he had not handed over to a younger generation after one term.

READ ALSO: Biden Falters In Fiery Debate With Trump

“I said I was going to be a transitional candidate, and I thought I’d be able to move on from this, pass it on to someone else,” he said. “But I didn’t anticipate things getting so, so, so divided.”

Biden has been fighting for political survival since a disastrous debate against Trump nearly three weeks ago, in which his tired and confused appearance sparked concerns about his age.

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Schiff became the first Democrat to call for him to step aside since the assassination attempt against Trump on Saturday, which had briefly silenced the growing chorus against Biden.

READ ALSO: Russian Oil Depot Gutted By Fire After Ukrainian Drone Attack

A second Trump presidency will undermine the very foundation of our democracy, and I have serious concerns about whether the President can defeat Donald Trump in November,” Schiff said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times.

Schiff, who is expected to win a Senate seat this November, is a key White House ally in the legislature and shot to nationwide prominence as lead prosecutor during then-president Trump’s first impeachment trial.

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Biden was set to make a fresh attempt to prop up his candidacy in a speech to crucial Latino voters in the battleground state of Nevada later Wednesday.

– ‘Pretty damn good’ –

Around 20 House Democrats and one senator have now called on Biden to leave the White House race but Biden has refused, insisting he is best placed to beat Trump.

READ ALSO: Ex-Rep Rejects Membership Of Edo APC Gov Campaign Council

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Biden, Trump agree to election debates in June, September
Most polls show Biden trailing in a tight race, with Trump pulling ahead in key swing states but no dramatic movement since the debate debacle or shooting.

Biden said his mental acuity was “pretty damn good” in an NBC interview on Monday, one of a series of unscripted outings aimed at showing he has what it takes.

With pressure on Biden mounting, Democrats said on Wednesday they plan a virtual nomination for the president in the first week of August, ahead of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) on August 19.

Some Democrats have slammed the scheme, accusing the party of trying to ram through Biden’s candidacy and avoid a full discussion of alternative choices.

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Party chiefs say they need to carry out the virtual roll-call by August 7, which is the deadline set by the Republican-led state of Ohio for the submission of nominations.

Biden otherwise risks not being on the ballot in Ohio, the home state of Trump’s new running mate J.D. Vance.

READ ALSO: VIDEO: Rema Performs ‘Calm Down’ At Indian Billionaire Ambani’s Son Wedding

While Ohio’s governor has signed a law giving Biden more time, the DNC said it feared further legal challenges.

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“None of this will be rushed,” the heads of the DNC’s rules committee said in a letter to lawmakers obtained by AFP. “No matter what may be reported, our goal is not to fast-track.”

But several lawmakers are planning to sign a letter against the virtual nomination plan and others have criticized it, according to US media.

Biden insists that Democratic voters support him, but a poll by the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research said Wednesday that nearly two-thirds want him to step aside.

 

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