Sudan’s civilian death toll nears 100 as fighting intensifies amid power struggle

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(LONDON) — Dozens of civilians have died and hundreds have been injured in Sudan as forces loyal to two rival generals battle for control of the resource-rich North African nation for a third day.

Since heavy fighting erupted in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Saturday, at least 97 civilians have been killed in the crossfire while 365 others have been wounded, according to a statement released Monday morning from the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, a pro-democracy group monitoring casualties. The group noted there was “a number of injuries and deaths that are not included” because some “hospitals could not be accessed due to the difficulty of mobility and security situation in the country.”

While the violence has spread from Khartoum to other parts of Sudan, “the heaviest concentration of fighting” is centered in the densely populated capital, according to the World Health Organization, the global health arm of the United Nations.

The WHO said in a statement Sunday that it is “monitoring the health needs and resources across Khartoum and other affected cities to ensure that limited supplies are directed to where they are most needed.” However, movement in the capital “is restricted due to the insecurity creating challenges for doctors, nurses, patients, and ambulances to reach health facilities, and putting at risk the lives of those who need urgent medical care,” according to the WHO.

“Supplies distributed by WHO to health facilities prior to this recent escalation of conflict are now exhausted, and many of the nine hospitals in Khartoum receiving injured civilians are reporting shortages of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, medical supplies, and other life-saving commodities,” the agency added. “There are also reports of shortages of specialized medical personnel, including anesthesiologists. Water and power cuts are affecting the functionality of health facilities, and shortages of fuel for hospital generators are also being reported.”

The clashes are the culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the head of the Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese paramilitary group. So far, neither has shown any indication of backing down. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan’s power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019.

As the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven nations met in Japan on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that they “have been consulting very closely on the situation in Sudan.”

“We’ve also been in close touch with partners in the Arab world, in Africa, in international organizations,” Blinken said. “There is a shared deep concern about the fighting, the violence that’s going on in Sudan, the threat that that poses to civilians, that it poses to the Sudanese nation and potentially poses even to the region.”

“There is also a very strongly shared view about the need for Generals Burhan and Hemeti to ensure the protection of civilians and noncombatants as well as people from third countries, including our personnel who are located in Sudan,” he added, “and also a strongly held view — again, across all of our partners — on the need for an immediate ceasefire and a return to talks — talks that were very promising in putting Sudan on the path to a full transition to civilian-led government.”

The United States has been “closely in touch” with its embassy in Khartoum “to make sure that our personnel is safe and accounted for, which is the case,” and also “with any American citizens in Sudan to make sure that those who are registered with the embassy and that we’re actually in contact with get all the information they can about how to remain safe and secure,” according to Blinken.

Lakshmi Parthasarathy, 32, is one of the U.S. citizens currently in Khartoum. When the fighting broke out early Saturday, Parthasarathy said the sound awoke her and she initially thought it was a thunderstorm. But then she looked outside her window.

“There was massive amounts of smoke and it was very clear it was gunfire,” Parthasarathy told ABC News in a remote interview on Sunday. “We went onto the roof and there were people running and we saw jets, and it looked like all-out war was happening like right there.”

“It’s basically been non-stop now since yesterday morning,” she added. “It doesn’t sound like it’s de-escalating. It’s definitely a scary experience.”

Parthasarathy, a software engineer and travel blogger from Boston, said she is staying at an Airbnb rental located less than a mile from the central part of the Sudanese capital, near the presidential palace and the shuttered international airport, where some of the heaviest fighting has taken place. She described the scene as “very chaotic” but noted that there are also “areas of calm” in Khartoum.

It’s Parthasarathy’s first time in Sudan and she has been traveling around the vast country for the past several weeks but only arrived in the capital a few days ago. She said her family is worried about her but that she has made several Sudanese friends who are helping her feel safe and has also registered with the U.S. embassy in Khartoum in case the situation worsens. She noted seeing many people flee the city but said most are staying indoors, particularly at night.

“It’s unclear to anyone what’s happening and where this is going,” Parthasarathy told ABC News. “I really didn’t expect this. This is not part of the plan. I’m nervous about what happens next.”

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