Plane crash kills nine, including four military personnel in Sudan, as war continues

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A civilian plane crashed after taking off from an airport in eastern Sudan, killing nine people, including four military personnel who were aboard the aircraft, the military said, as the conflict in the northeastern African country reached the 100-day mark on Monday with no sign of abating.

The military said in a statement that a child survived late Sunday’s crash in Port Sudan, a city on the Red Sea that so far has been spared from the devastating war between the military and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.

The Antonov plane crashed shortly after taking off from the city’s airport, the military said. It blamed a technical failure for the crash. The statement provided no further details.

Al-Taher Abdel-Rahman, the secretary of Finance Minister Gebreil Ibrahim, was among the dead, according to the minister, who took to social media to mourn his employee.

Sudan has plunged into chaos since mid-April when monthslong tensions between the military and the RSF exploded into open fighting in the capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere across the country.

“It’s been 100 days of war in Sudan, with a devastating toll on lives and infrastructure, but worse lies ahead,” said William Carter, Norwegian Refugee Council’s director in Sudan.

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The fighting has turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields. The sprawling region of Darfur saw some of the worst bouts of violence in the conflict with the fighting turning into ethnic clashes.

The clashes have killed more than 3,000 people and wounded more than 6,000 others, Health Minister Haitham Mohammed Ibrahim said in televised comments last month. The casualty tally is likely much higher, according to doctors and activists.

More than 2.6 million people fled their homes to safer areas inside Sudan, while more than 757,000 people crossed into neighboring countries, according to the UN migration agency.

The conflict derailed Sudanese hopes of restoring the country’s fragile transition to democracy, which had begun after a popular uprising forced the military’s removal of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

A coup, led by the military and RSF, disrupted the democratic transition in October 2021.

Carter, of the NRC, warned about a “total collapse” in the country as international efforts have so far failed to establish a cease-fire to allow humanitarian support to millions of people impacted by the war.

“The first 100 days drew attention, but it’s fading. We must sustain efforts and apply diplomacy and mediation to tangibly impact civilians in Sudan,” he said.

Humanitarian group Care International called for a cease-fire and the establishment of a safe corridor to allow the delivery of basic goods and services to those trapped in the fighting, as well as funds to meet the growing needs of Sudanese.

“The world cannot afford to look away from the worsening situation in Sudan as it has the potential to destabilize the entire region,” said David MacDonald, CARE’s country director in Sudan.

Talks between the military and the RSF in the Saudi Arabian coastal city of Jeddah repeatedly failed to stop the fighting. The Jeddah talks were brokered by Saudi Arabia and the United States.

Pro-democracy leaders, meanwhile, were meeting Monday afternoon in Egypt’s capital, Cairo, the first such gathering for Sudanese politicians since the breakout of the war.

The Forces of Freedom and Change, the pro-democracy coalition, said the two-day meeting would discuss ways out of the war, and reviving the derailed transition to democracy.

The alliance, which co-ruled Sudan with the generals following the ouster of al-Bashir, reiterated its calls for the warring factions to stop fighting.

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