Sudan’s RSF says it has taken key town, closing in on Port Sudan

Paramilitary forces battling Sudan’s regular army for more than a year said on Saturday they had taken a key state capital in the southeast, prompting thousands to flee, witnesses said.

“We have liberated the 17th Infantry Division from Singa,” the capital of Sennar state, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) announced on X.

Residents confirmed to AFP: “The RSF have deployed in the streets of Singa”, and witnesses reported aircraft from the regular army flying overhead and anti-aircraft fire.

Earlier Saturday, other witnesses said there was fighting in the streets and “rising panic among residents seeking to flee”.

Sudan has been gripped by war since April 2023, when fighting erupted between forces loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

The conflict in the country of 48 million has killed tens of thousands, displaced millions and triggered one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The latest RSF breakthrough means the paramilitaries are tightening the noose around Port Sudan on the Red Sea, where the army, government and UN agencies are now based.

The RSF controls most of the capital Khartoum, Al-Jazira state in the centre of the country, the vast western region of Darfur and much of Kordofan to the south.

Sennar state is already home to more than one million displaced Sudanese. It connects central Sudan to the army-controlled southeast.

Posts on social media showed thousands of people fleeing in vehicles and on foot, and witnesses told AFP “thousands of people have taken refuge on the east bank of the Blue Nile” river east of Singa.

RSF forces are also besieging the town of El-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state.

On Thursday, a report cited by the United Nations said nearly 26 million people in war-torn Sudan are facing high levels of “acute food insecurity”.

The RSF have been implicated in acts of ethnic cleansing against the country’s non-Arab population, killing thousands in the western region of Darfur last year.

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