Aid Group Says Over 100 People Killed In 2 Weeks Of Fighting In A Sudanese City

CAIRO (AP) — More than two weeks of fighting between Sudan’s military and a notorious paramilitary group over a major city in the western Darfur region killed at least 123 people, an international aid group said Sunday.

The fighting in el-Fasher, the provincial capital of North Darfur province, also wounded more than 930 people in the same period, Doctors without Borders said.

“This is a sign of the violent intensity of the fighting,” the group said. “We urge the warring parties to do more to protect civilians.”

Clashes between the military and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces escalated earlier this month in the city, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.

El-Fasher has become the center of the conflict between the military and the RSF, which is aided by Arab militias commonly known as janjaweed. The city is the last stronghold that is still held by the military in the sprawling Darfur region.

Sudan’s conflict began in April last year when soaring tensions between the leaders of the military and the RSF exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere in the country.

The conflict killed more than 14,000 people and wounded thousands more amid reports of widespread sexual violence and other atrocities that rights groups say amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It also pushed the country's population to the brink of famine. The U.N. food agency warned the warring parties earlier this month that there is a serious risk of widespread starvation and death in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan if they don’t allow humanitarian aid into the vast western region.

The RSF has built up forces in recent months seeking to wrest control of el-Fasher. Along with its Arab militia allies, the RSF besieged the city and launched a major attack on its southern and eastern parts earlier this month.

The clashes renewed on Thursday in the Abu Shouk camp for displaced people in the Salam neighborhood in the city’s northern part, as well as its southern western parts, the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration reported.

On Saturday, a shell hit the house of a Doctors Without Borders aid worker close to the city’s main market, killing the worker, the charity said.

The U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan Clementine Nkweta-Salami blasted the “tragic” killing. The aid worker was not identified.

Nkweta-Salami urged warring parties to stop fighting in the city where “hundreds of thousands of women, men, and children in North Darfur are once again caught in the crossfire of war.”

“A human tragedy of epic proportions is on the horizon, but it can, and must, be prevented,” she said.