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Sudan’s army claims control of national broadcast building

SUDAN’S army said it had taken control of the state broadcast headquarters from the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in what would be its most significant advance against its paramilitary rival in nearly 11 months of war.

The broadcast building lies in Omdurman, a city across the River Nile from Khartoum that forms part of Sudan’s wider capital and has seen heavy fighting around military bases, bridges and supply routes.

Battles have continued despite a call by the United Nations Security Council for a truce to allow desperately needed humanitarian aid into Sudan during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began on Monday.

The truce call was welcomed by the RSF but rejected by a senior general in the army, which has claimed some recent gains in Omdurman after being on the back foot militarily through much of the war.

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The capture of the state broadcast building would extend its control from the north across “old Omdurman”, though the RSF retains southern and western areas of the city.

Witnesses say the army, which has depended on air power and heavy artillery to try to counter the RSF’s infantry advantage, has deployed drones in Omdurman to regain ground.

There was no immediate comment from the RSF.

The RSF seized the state broadcast building as fighting broke out in mid-April 2023, and used it along with other public facilities for military operations.

National TV and radio have been broadcasting from Port Sudan, the Red Sea coastal city from which officials aligned with the army have operated since the RSF occupied large swathes of the capital early in the war.

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‘VOICE OF THE NATION’

A video posted by the army on Tuesday, the location of which was verified by Reuters, showed some of its troops within a kilometre of the radio and TV building cheering after they had seized vehicles and weapons.

On social media, supporters of the army cheered what they called the liberation of the “voice of the nation”.

“Today the army achieved a great victory, but what’s important is to get back security, health services and education,” said Safaa Ali, a 39-year-old government employee from Omdurman who fled to Port Sudan in May.

“Our question is who will compensate us for the loss of all their property that was looted and their homes that were destroyed by this war,” she told Reuters by phone.

The war between Sudan’s army and the RSF erupted in mid-April 2023 amid a dispute over a plan for transition to civilian rule.

The two factions had staged a coup in 2021 that derailed a previous transition following the 2019 overthrow of autocratic former leader Omar al-Bashir, before falling out.

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The war has devastated the capital, led to waves of ethnically driven killings in the western region of Darfur and created the world’s biggest displacement crisis.

More than 8 million people have fled their homes and hunger is rising.

The conflict has also drawn in regional powers. Analysts say the United Arab Emirates has backed the RSF, while Egypt, Eritrea and Iran are aligned with the army.

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By KHALID ABDELAZIZ

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