The death toll from the ongoing clashes in Sudan has risen to 604 people, including civilians, the U.N. health agency said on Tuesday. The new figures come as representatives of the warring parties are holding talks in Saudi Arabia.
More than 5,100 people were also wounded in connection with the fighting, World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told reporters. On Monday, the Sudanese Doctors’ Syndicate, which tracks only civilian casualties, said that the fatalities had reached 487.
The conflict started on April 15, after months of escalating tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and a rival paramilitary group called the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF, commanded by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The fighting has turned urban areas into battlefields and displaced nearly 700,000 people on top of the 3.7 million who had already been internally displaced within the country before the conflict began, according to the U.N. migration agency.
On Monday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry said that talks between delegations of both warring sides were expected to continue for a few more days in the coastal city of Jeddah.
The talks are part of a diplomatic initiative proposed by the kingdom and the United States in hopes of ending the fighting. Meanwhile, Burhan accused the RSF of using residential neighborhoods as their military bases and civilians as human shields.
In an interview late Monday with an Egyptian TV channel, Al-Qahira Al-Akhbariya, he insisted they must withdraw all their troops from the capital, Khartoum, before any truce agreement can be reached.
“If this is not achieved, there will be no point in going to Saudi Arabia, or engaging in any negotiations,” he said. “We won’t go ahead with any initiative that does not bring back normalcy and ensure the safety of our citizens.”
The RSF has not responded to Burhan’s statement.
– Noha Elhennawy, AP News