CAIRO (AP) – Gunmen attacked an 18-member MSF team working at a key hospital in the war-torn capital of Khartoum, the aid group said Friday.
The MSF medical team was stopped on the road on Thursday while transporting supplies to the Turkish hospital in South Khartoum district, the aid organization said. The gunmen first questioned the MSF team as to why it was in Sudan, and then began beating some of them.
“After arguing about the reasons for MSF’s presence, the gunmen aggressively attacked our team, physically beating and beating them,” the group said on its website.
One of the drivers was briefly detained, MSF added. The group did not say whether the attackers were in uniform or provide other details.
Sudan has been ravaged by violence since mid-April, when tensions between the country’s army, led by General Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by General Mohamed Hamden Dagalo, erupted into open fighting.
The conflict has since spread to different parts of the country, reducing Khartoum to an urban battlefield, and has also sparked communal violence in Sudan’s western Darfur region.
The clashes left more than 3,000 people dead and more than 6,000 others injured, according to June figures from the Sudanese government. However, the real toll is likely much higher, doctors and activists say. According to the International Organization for Migration, more than 3 million people within Sudan have been displaced or fled the country to escape the violence.
Thursday’s attack has prompted Médecins Sans Frontières to consider whether she can stay in the Turkish hospital, which has served as the base for the group’s aid efforts in Sudan. It is also one of only two functioning hospitals in the Sudanese capital, according to Doctors Without Borders.
“MSF is deeply concerned that our presence in the Turkish hospital will soon become unsustainable,” MSF said in a statement on Twitter.
In the streets of Khartoum, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces seem to have the upper hand. According to residents and activists, the armed forces have been occupying people’s homes and other civilian properties for the past three months and turning them into operational bases.
The Sudanese army has responded with airstrikes and shelling of densely populated civilian areas.
There have also been reports of widespread destruction and looting in Khartoum and the nearby town of Omdurman. Humanitarian facilities have often been targeted. At least two World Food Program sites have been looted, the UN agency said, one in Khartoum and the other in the central city of El Obeid.