The Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have blamed each other for a strike that damaged a bridge over the Jebel Aulia dam south of Khartoum, the latest piece of key infrastructure to suffer in a seven-month war.
It came a few days after intense fighting between the two warring sides in the area. Bodies were seen on the streets, among them civilians, and more than 1,000 people were displaced from Jebel Aulia and the villages west of the White Nile River, following the attack on the dam and the seizure of the bridge.
A human rights lawyer in Wad Madani, Gezira state, told the Guardian that she had documented at least 10 cases of rape from Jebel Aulia, and said some victims were being treated in hospital.
“Most of the cases I have received are for young women, mostly under 25 years old. They told us that they were raped by the RSF after taking control of the area.”
Last Saturday, the two warring sides also exchanged accusations over the damage to the Shambat Bridge linking Omdurman with Bahri, Khartoum North, which used to be controlled by the RSF.
Only one bridge controlled by the RSF remains safe, the Al Mansheiya Bridge on the Blue Nile River linking Khartoum with the eastern Nile district. The rest of the bridges are divided between the two warring sides.
Most of Khartoum state with its three cities is being controlled by the RSF. The paramilitary has also taken control of four states in Darfur out of five since late last month, with anticipation of fighting in North Darfur state, the last army-controlled area in the region.
The recent escalation on the ground intensified when the two warring sides signed an agreement for a humanitarian access in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 7 November. On the same day, the Khartoum refinery, a critical facility, was engulfed in a massive fire. Both sides exchanged accusations of responsibility, even though talks continued towards on a ceasefire agreement.
Supporters of the former president Omar al-Bashir, who are backing the army in this war, appeared to be against talks with the paramilitary. Sources in the army said they had put pressure on them to stop the negotiations.
More than 10,000 people have been killed and more than 6 million people have been displaced from their homes since the start of the war.
With reports of abuses against the remaining civilians in the capital by both sides, huge looting of civilians properties is going on all over Khartoum state.
• This article was amended on 19 November 2023 to replace the main image.