Sudan army chief makes first foray outside HQ in months of warThu, 24 Aug 2023 14:57:26 GMT

Sudan’s army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan was seen outside his headquarters Thursday for the first time since fighting with paramilitaries erupted more than four months ago, army videos showed.Some of the footage filmed before dawn and posted on the army’s Facebook page showed Burhan speaking to soldiers, with the caption indicating that he was at the Wadi Seidna air base north of Khartoum.In separate daytime images posted later, he is seen surrounded by civilians in the capital’s twin-city of Omdurman, where residents also reported fighting on Thursday.AFP could not verify the footage or images but the agency’s fact-checking department was able to determine that they had never been posted online before and therefore could very well have been taken on Thursday.Images of Burhan have rarely been released since fighting erupted on April 15 between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.Previous images showed Burhan inside the army headquarters in Khartoum, over which the two sides have waged fierce battles for control.The latest footage comes as fighting rages around a key military base in the capital’s south.The army has put out several statements and videos saying it has repelled RSF attacks since Sunday against Al-Shajara base but the paramilitaries claim they have taken control of much of it since Wednesday.Also on Wednesday, the RSF said 2,500 fighters from a movement led by former rebel leader Malak Agar, recently named by Burhan as his deputy to replace Daglo, had pledged allegiance to the paramilitaries.The war between the rival generals has killed thousands and devastated infrastructure in already impoverished Sudan, and has been concentrated mostly in Khartoum and the war-scarred Darfur region.Conservative estimates from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data project say that nearly 5,000 people have been killed since then. But the battles have prevented the recovery of the bodies of many others thought to have been killed.According to United Nations figures, in the four months since the fighting broke out, more than 4.6 million people have been forced to flee their homes.The UN children’s fund UNICEF said on Thursday that the fighting made “an average of more than 700 children newly displaced every hour”.