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Bodies and Burial as Sudan Fighting Resumes After Brief Truce

Mourners gather to bury the victims killed by an artillery shell strike in southern Khartoum, Sudan, on June 11, 2023.
Mourners gather to bury the victims killed by an artillery shell strike in southern Khartoum, Sudan, on June 11, 2023.

Mourners gathered to bury the dead and bodies lay in a Khartoum hospital Sunday as deadly shelling and gunfire resumed after the end of a 24-hour ceasefire in Sudan.

Fighting has raged in the northeast African country since mid-April, when army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, turned on each other.

The latest in a series of ceasefire agreements enabled civilians trapped in the capital Khartoum to venture outside and stock up on food and other essential supplies.

But on Sunday they gathered on a sandy plot of land in the south of Sudan's capital to bury victims of an artillery strike.

Witness told AFP that only 10 minutes after the truce ended at 6:00 am (0400 GMT) on Sunday, the city was rocked again by shelling and clashes.

Men in Khartoum's Azhari neighborhood carried a woman, her body lying on a green cot and covered with a light-coloured cloth, toward her final resting place, a hole dug out of the soil on bumpy ground across from some houses.

Her own home had been shelled, leaving her among more than 1,800 killed during eight weeks of war, according to figures from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.

One relative, who did not give his name, condemned the "unacceptable" act and said: "We pray for an end to this war."

A pro-democracy neighborhood group had reported that fighting in Khartoum's south sent "shells landing in citizens' homes".

On beds at a hospital in the area, two bodies lay under colored cloths.

Heavy artillery fire was heard across greater Khartoum. Residents also reported air strikes and anti-aircraft fire.

'Return of terror'

The one-day lull was "like a dream" that evaporated, said Nasreddin Ahmed, a resident of south Khartoum awakened by the renewed fighting.

Asmaa al-Rih, who lives in the capital's northern suburbs, lamented the "return of terror" with "rockets and shells shaking the walls of houses" once again.

Clouds of smoke were also seen billowing for a fifth successive day from the Al-Shajara oil and gas facility near the Yarmouk military plant in Khartoum.

Multiple truces have been agreed and broken, including after the United States imposed sanctions on both rival generals after a previous attempt collapsed at the end of May.

Sudan's military elites as well as Daglo amassed considerable wealth during the rule of longtime strongman Omar al-Bashir, whose government was subjected to decades of international sanctions before his overthrow in 2019.

The 24-hour ceasefire that ended on Sunday had been announced by US and Saudi mediators who warned that if it failed they may break off mediation efforts.

The two warring sides had "agreed to allow the unimpeded movement and delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout the country", the Saudi foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The mediators said in a joint statement they "share the frustration of the Sudanese people about the uneven implementation of previous ceasefires".

A record 25 million people -- more than half the population -- are in need of aid and protection, according to the UN.

Fighting has gripped Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, uprooting nearly two million people, including 476,000 who have sought refuge in neighboring countries, the United Nations says.

More than 200,000 of those have entered Egypt, mostly by land.

But Cairo on Saturday announced it was toughening requirements for those Sudanese who had previously been exempted from visas -- women of all ages, children under 16 and anyone over 50.

Egypt said the new requirements were not designed to "prevent or limit" the entry of Sudanese people, but rather to stop "illegal activities by individuals and groups on the Sudanese side of the border, who forged entry visas" for profit.