Drivers tell of gunpoint carjackings in 'lawless' Khartoum

Civilians report 'all types of atrocities' as army and RSF battle for control of Khartoum

A deserted street in southern Khartoum during a ceasefire last month. AFP
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Dr Mohammad, a paediatrician in the Sudanese city of Omdurman, no longer drives his car, preferring to walk instead for his own safety.

The decision came after a man was shot and killed across the street from his hospital “by armed men who stole the man's belongings, including his car”, he said.

Residents say such incidents have become common in the two months since fighting broke out between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Khartoum and the adjoining cities of Omdurman and Bahri.

More than 866 have been killed and at least 6,000 injured, the Ministry of Health's latest figures show.

Hundreds of thousands have fled to other parts of Sudan or to neighbouring countries amid the fighting and mass looting of homes, vehicles, shops, banks, embassies and international organisations.

Dr Mohammad, whose last name has been withheld for his own safety, is one of the few paediatricians left in the city.

He said the man shot near his hospital was a new father who had gone out to get milk and other supplies for his baby, born after eight years of trying to have a child.

“It was devastating,” he said.

Gasim Oshi, from the Beit Al Mal neighbourhood of Omdurman, said he had witnessed “all types of atrocities”.

“Our neighbourhood was fully occupied by the RSF because of its strategic location near the national radio and television station and the police headquarters,” said Mr Oshi, who sought safety in the city of Wad Madani, about 140km away, 46 days after fighting began.

“People were shot for seemingly no reason. We stopped using our car to get groceries because the possibility of being stopped by armed forces and being threatened into handing over belongings, including cars, is very high.”

Mr Oshi said a neighbour living in Saudi Arabia asked Mr Oshi and a friend to go to his house to deflate the tyres of one of his cars and drive the other to a safe location.

“So we did,” he said. “But two days later, my friend was driving the man's car and was stopped on the street by armed men.

“They tried to take the car and when he tried to negotiate with them, they began firing live ammunition in the air and near his feet.”

A few days later, Mr Oshi discovered that even the car with the deflated tyres had been towed away.

“They are first-class thieves,” he said.

'Spoils of war'

A Khartoum-based Facebook group called Lost and Found is mostly filled with pictures of missing vehicles. On May 28, the group's founder, Mohamed El Sheikh, posted the license plates of two Hyundai Accent cars that had gone missing.

On June 9, the RSF posted a video of their forces “combing the streets of Al Yarmouk” in south Khartoum. Two minutes and 42 seconds in, one of the missing cars is shown.

Norwegian Refugee Council worker Ahmed Omer told The National that his family had to leave their car behind when escaping, choosing instead to make the gruelling trip to the Egyptian border by public transport. Many who have left their homes and cars behind have presumed their belongings stolen.

“It was too dangerous to take the car,” he said. “Now the car is left behind in our old neighbourhood. It has most likely been stolen by now as the area is taken over by armed groups.”

Earlier this month, a self-proclaimed RSF member said on Twitter that the group considered homes and vehicles “spoils of war” that serve a “higher cause”.

The alleged fighter's Twitter account has since been taken down.

Updated: June 14, 2023, 10:44 AM