The authorities in El Gezira yesterday evening issued a curfew between sunset and sunrise, following attacks by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on areas near the state capital Wad Madani. Dozens of people have been injured in Abu Haraz. People living and sheltering in the city are fleeing in vast numbers. A military strategist described the RSF attacks as “unsystematic”.
Today, fighting between the RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) near the El Gezira capital continued, causing more panic and fear among the people, as the battles moved towards the Hantoub Bridge, which connects the eastern and western parts of Wad Madani.
The RSF troops received military reinforcements from their bases near and in Khartoum, Sudan Tribune reported today.
At about 8:00 yesterday morning, fierce fighting between the RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) broke out in the vicinity of Abu Haraz, about 10 kilometres north of Wad Madani. RSF paramilitaries also attempted to infiltrate fuel and gas depots in the area of Um Alila village, east of the city.
A resident of Wad Madani told Radio Dabanga that several houses in the Abu Haraz area have been severely damaged by the fighting. A medic reported that an unknown number of people were killed and wounded in the battles.
The sources said that explosions and sounds of aerial bombardments by the SAF and anti-aircraft missiles launched by the RSF were heard from the area of Abu Haraz yesterday morning, whereupon the roads to the capital of El Gezira and the Hantoub Bridge were closed by the authorities. The battles reportedly did not reach the city.
The government of El Gezira state issued a curfew between 18:00 and 6:00.
The SAF announced in a press statement yesterday that the air force inflicted heavy losses on the RSF, which prevented them from moving towards Wad Madani.
The army stated that “the Hantoub Bridge was closed within the framework of security measures” and described the situation in the city as “under control” and “safe”.
The RSF in a statement yesterday that they “would like to reassure people throughout the state of El Gezira, especially in Wad Madani, that their goal is “to destroy the strongholds of the El Burhan militia and the terrorist remnants of the former regime, which represent legitimate targets”.
Until Thursday, El Gezira was considered a safe haven by the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled and are still fleeing the violence in Khartoum. On Thursday morning, however, an RSF unit invaded Abu Gouta in the northwestern part of El Gezira. The paramilitaries plundered the Sudanese Agricultural Bank, took control of the town’s police station, and set up posts in a number of neighbourhoods.
Displaced in need
According to the first flash update on the clashes near Wad Madani yesterday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan reported that an estimated 5.9 million people live in El Gezira, with 700,000 of them living in the state capital.
Since April 15, when war between the SAF and RSF broke out, nearly 500,000 displaced people fled to El Gezira. About 86,400 of them sought refuge in Wad Madani, where more than 270,000 people currently need humanitarian assistance.
There are 57 humanitarian organisations working in the state: 25 INGOs, 21 NGOs and six UN agencies. So far this year, around 730,000 people in El Gezira have received assistance.
The UN, which used the city as a humanitarian aid hub, yesterday announced the suspension of all humanitarian field missions in El Gezira until further notice.
The Wad Madani resident who spoke to Radio Dabanga yesterday, further said that the clashes caused great panic and fear among the people living and sheltering in the city.
“As soon as sounds of missiles were heard, people left their homes in search of safer places. Many fled in the direction of Sennar, as they fear that what has happened to Khartoum may soon happen here too,” she stated.
A media source reported that people also fled to El Fau and Sharg El Gedaref. “The closure of the Hantoub bridge, the only major outlet to and from Wad Madani, is hampering their flight. Several buses on their way to Wad Madani had to return.”
The Wad Madani Resistance Committees called on the people in Wad Madani to be cautious and not to take to the streets in the areas close to the clashes. The resistance committees of Hasaheisa, some 46 kilometres north of Wad Madani, announced the closure of the town market and advised the people “to be cautious and not to be drawn into rumours”.
Military strategist Retd Maj Gen Amin Majzoub described the attacks launched by RSF on areas east of Wad Madani as “unsystematic”.
According to Majzoub, “the aim of these attacks was to distract the SAF with battles outside Khartoum in order to ease pressure on the RSF inside the Sudanese capital.
“Therefore, they tactically considered limited attacks for a limited purpose in terms of time and place,” he explained to Radio Dabanga. “Moreover, there are large fuel depots in the area east of Wad Madani,” he said, and suggested that access to food supplies may also be a reason for the attacks.
Ibrahim Mukheir, adviser to the RSF commander, said the attack on El Gezira came because “the army commander and his aides” who he described as “terrorists”, used the state “as a base to threaten Khartoum”.
The RSF “observe the highest standards of accuracy in identifying targets and apply rules of engagement in accordance with international laws and norms,” he told Radio Dabanga.
“We only target SAF commands and bases only the headquarters of the armed forces,” he said, and called on the people of El Gezira “to stay at home, not to cooperate with the enemies of democracy and civility, and not to respond to lies and misinformation broadcast by the remnants [supporters of the ousted Al Bashir regime] to spread fear and panic among the citizens.
“This war will end in favour of our people who aspire freedom, justice, equality, and the rebuilding of the Sudanese state on a new basis.”
The US Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in a post on X (formerly Twitter) this morning that she is “gravely concerned by reports of attacks by the Rapid Support Forces on Wad Madani in Sudan – where thousands have sought refuge from war. I urge the RSF to refrain from attacks and for all parties to protect civilians at all costs. Perpetrators of terror will be held accountable”.
Ahmed Younes wrote in the London-based pan-Arabic Asharq Alawsat today that “Whoever controls the city of Wad Madani consequently rules the whole of Sudan.”
The strategically located city “is Sudan’s second city in terms of social, political, and economic weight”. In case the RSF seize the capital of El Gezira, they will control central Sudan, he stated.