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WAD MADANI: Residents of Khartoum awoke Sunday to artillery and rocket fire, hours after an air strike in the city’s south killed at least 20 civilians including two children, according to Sudanese activists.

“The death toll from the aerial bombardment” in southern Khartoum “has risen to 20 civilian fatalities,” according to a statement by the neighbourhood’s resistance committee. They are among many volunteer groups that used to organise pro-democracy demonstrations and now provide assistance to families caught in the crossfire between the army and paramilitary fighters.

In an earlier statement, they said the victims included two children, and warned that more fatalities went unrecorded, as “their bodies could not be moved to the hospital because they were severely burned or torn to pieces in the bombing”.

Since war began between the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on April 15, around 5,000 people have been killed, according to estimates from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project.

The Sudanese Armed Forces control the skies and have carried out regular air strikes while RSF fighters dominate the streets of the capital.

Western countries have accused the paramilitaries and allied militias of killings based on ethnicity in the western Darfur region, and the International Criminal Court has opened a new probe into alleged war crimes.

The army has also been accused of abuses, including a July 8 air strike that killed around two dozen civilians.

More than half of Sudan’s 48 million people now require humanitarian aid and protection, and six million are “one step away from famine”, according to the United Nations.

Despite insecurity, looting and bureaucratic obstacles, the world body says it has been able to get aid to millions of those in need.

The war has internally displaced around 3.8 million people, the UN says, while another million have crossed borders into neighbouring countries.

Among the displaced are nearly 2.8 million from Khartoum, according to the International Organization for Migration. That is more than half the capital’s pre-war population of around five million.

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