(Reuters) -At least 32 civilians were killed and dozens injured in artillery strikes by the Sudanese army on Tuesday, one of the highest tolls from a single day of fighting since war broke out in April, the activist group Emergency Lawyers said.
Rights activists and residents say the regular army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that are fighting for control of the country have fired missiles into populated areas, incurring hundreds of civilian casualties in the capital Khartoum and other cities.
While the RSF holds most of the ground in Khartoum and the cities of Omdurman and Bahri that make up the wider capital, the army has the edge in heavier artillery and aircraft.
Late on Wednesday, Sudan’s military ruler General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan issued a constitutional decree ordering the dissolution of the RSF, the governing sovereign council said. There was no immediate reaction from the RSF.
The strike on Tuesday took place in the Ombada neighbourhood in western Omdurman, the statement released on Wednesday said, a neighbourhood that has seen several deadly strikes.
Earlier this week, military sources said the army had deployed large numbers of ground troops in Omdurman and was preparing for a large operation to attempt to cut off the RSF’s main supply route into the capital from the Darfur region.
Local volunteers reported that 19 people had been killed in army strikes on Ombada on Sunday. Residents say large numbers fled the Ombada neighbourhood on Wednesday.
The RSF has also been accused by activists and residents of damaging homes by firing anti-aircraft missiles and other artillery, as well as looting and occupying civilian neighborhoods.
“The use of heavy and light artillery in areas packed with civilians is a war crime … and reflects a disregard for their lives,” the Emergency Lawyers, who are pro-democracy legal activists, said on Wednesday.
They said the army and RSF would be brought to justice.
The factions, which fell out over internationally-backed plans to integrate their forces during a transition to democracy, have denied responsibility for strikes that have killed civilians.
The United States on Wednesday sanctioned the deputy head of the RSF for involvement in human rights abuses by his troops, and had previously sanctioned companies linked to both sides.
(Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Nafisa Eltahir; and Omar Abdel-Razek editing by Jonathan Oatis and Mark Heinrich)